August 25th is National Whiskey Sour Day. Yep, I know what you’re thinking. “There’s a day for everything, isn’t there?!?” And yes, for the most part, you’re right. Creamsicle day? Check. Toasted Marshmallow Day? Right. But in this case, I’ll allow a “day” because it’s an excuse to drink a delicious whiskey sour on a Thursday. I’ll even go so far and suggest that if you’re not busy adulting that day, you can add some club soda to it, make it bubbly and do a little day drinking.
First, let’s do a little history lesson. The Bartender’s Guide, (or, How to Mix Drinks, a Bon-Vivant’s Companion) was written by Jerry Thomas in 1862. Our friends over at Google define bon-vivant as someone that enjoys a “social and luxurious lifestyle.” It’s a French word, translated literally as “good liver” (by a guy that named his company Bon-Vivant, so don’t hold me to that translation). And we’ll go one step further and say, live-r, not liver, since we are talking about a cocktail guide. So, Jerry pens a guide in 1862 that I can get on my Kindle in 2016 – what’s so special? It’s not just any book – it’s given credit as the first book of cocktail recipes. While some things change, and become nearly unrecognizable, a well-made cocktail never goes out of style. Granted, in 2016 it may have bitters made from the fungus off an Amazonian log, or smoked by the light of the first full moon, or some other concoction, but the “one sour, two sweet, three strong, four weak” original structure of what folks called “punch” still makes a delicious drink. It’s also where the whiskey sour gets its start.
Depending on what bar you’re in, or which guide you read, you might find a sour that includes an egg white. The egg white, when dry shaken (no ice), becomes frothy and light, and adds a texture to the drink that some people enjoy. As long as it’s a reputable bar, there’s very little danger of salmonella from the raw egg. If you’re vegan, aquafaba has joined the bar menu. It’s the stuff you probably dump down the drain when you open a can of chickpeas. It’s used in place of the egg, and people say it gives all of the fluffy, foamy goodness of the egg, with none of the bean taste.
To keep it easy on you at home, we’ll skip the egg, and make one with my favorite* Tennessee whisky, George Dickel No. 12. If you don’t have simple syrup, but you do have sugar, you can either make some simple (I usually do rich simple, 2 parts sugar, 1 part water, boil and cool) or if you have sugar cubes, muddle that up well with the lemon juice before you shake. And yes – that really does say 1.3 ounces. The folks at Dickel provided this recipe, and I don’t remember why they always say 1.3, but there you are (shhh, I’d use 1.5 – and probably by the second one, maybe a wee bit more).
George Dickel Whisky Sour
1.3 oz. George Dickel No.12 Whisky
1.5 oz. lemon juice
0.75 oz. simple syrup
Shake and strain ingredients into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge or cherry.
Oh, and how did the whiskey sour get a Day? If artichoke hearts can have one (March 16, btw), and then there’s the mysteriously named, “Something on a Stick” day (March 28), I say cheers to National Whiskey Sour Day!
*Yes, the nice folks at Dickel provided me with my first ever bottle of No. 12 for review. That’s long gone, and I’ve purchased more on my own. My opinion is my own, and can’t be bought (even with tasty whiskey).
Article: Jeanne Runkle