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Twists on a Whiskey Sour Recipe

Twists on a Whiskey Sour Recipe

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If you’ve been listening to our podcast, you know I’ve been super into Whiskey Sours lately. It’s a simple cocktail to make and I feel very grown up and fancy when I drink it.

Because it is so simple, it’s easy to shake things up a bit (pun intended) and play with the recipe.

Basic Whiskey Sour Recipe:

  • 2oz Whiskey (or Bourbon)
  • 1oz Simple Syrup
  • 1oz Lemon Juice

Shake over ice. Strain into a glass.

It’s easy to play with the proportions of the syrup and lemon to create a sweeter or sourer drink and I’ll often reduce the Simple Syrup to 0.75oz for a little less sweetness.

For glassware I generally use a coupe. It adds to the fanciness. Click HERE for my favorite coupe glasses!

Coupe Glasses

Changing Spirits

Switching up the booze will also change the flavor a bit. I generally use Bulleit Bourbon but recently had to switch to Jack Daniels Whiskey because of a shortage at Costco. That changes the flavor quite a bit. When choosing a spirit for a cocktail I like to stick to the mid-level price range. Expensive Whiskey or Bourbon is better for sipping, and I generally try to avoid the super cheap stuff. But in that middle range there is a lot of variation of flavors that you can play with.

You can also mix it up (pun intended) with other types of spirits. Lately we’ve been splitting the Bourbon with Amaretto for a lovely Amaretto Sour. It’s a bit sweeter than a bourbon sour so sometimes I back off the simple syrup, but it’s also a lovely dessert cocktail as is.

Bourbon Amaretto Sour Recipe:

  • 1oz Bourbon
  • 1oz Amaretto
  • 1oz Simple Syrup
  • 1oz Lemon Juice

Shake over ice. Strain into a glass.

Changing Syrups

One of my favorite ways to change up a cocktail is to change up the syrup. The easiest way to do that in a Whiskey Sour is to substitute the simple syrup one-for-one with maple syrup. It adds a depth of flavor that pairs well with the whiskey/bourbon. There’s also some fun and fancy maple syrups out there like this smoked maple syrup.

Smoked Maple Syrup

If you want to put a little work in, it’s also fun to fancy up your simple syrup. They call it simple syrup for a reason – it’s about the easiest thing to make.

Simple Syrup Recipe:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Combine in a saucepan and boil until sugar is dissolved. Cool in the refrigerator for 30 mins before using.

You can fancy up that simple syrup in many ways such as adding fruit, herbs, or other flavoring.

Adding fruit: when adding fruit you’d just cut the fruit into chunks and add it to the pot with the other ingredients. Boil, and once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let it sit for 30 mins before straining and cooling. I’ve done this with limes (zest), strawberries (hulled and chopped), pears (peeled and chopped), and cucumbers (grated). I usually aim for about a cup of fruit per cup of water (or TBS of zest), but since it’s just flavoring it’s really just to taste. When you’re done, you can also use the leftover fruit in a dessert. It will be mushy and sweet so use it to top ice cream, or add it to some puff pastry for a nice hand pie.

Adding herbs: when adding herbs you want to add them after boiling so you don’t scald the herbs. So wash your fresh herbs and after the sugar has dissolved removed the syrup from the heat, toss the herbs in and let it sit for 30 mins before straining and cooling. I’ve done this before with basil, mint, sage, and rosemary.

Adding “other” flavoring: A couple options that I’ve tried are honey and vanilla. For honey you can replace the sugar with honey (1 cup water to 1 cup honey).

You can add vanilla in a few different ways. Either add the contents of a vanilla bean and the pod after the boil, or add vanilla extract or vanilla paste after the boil. I’ve recently also used vanilla powder and added some during the boil for a little extra flavor.

Vanilla Powder

My husband recently bought a pound of watermelon Jolly Ranchers to make syrup out of – I’m excited to try that someday (if he doesn’t eat all the Jolly Ranchers first). Will be sure to chronicle that for the blog if and when it happens.

You can also combine multiple flavors. I’ve done:

  • Cucumber + lime
  • Cucumber + mint + lime
  • Pear + Vanilla
  • Honey + Rosemary

For a bourbon sour I’d steer clear of cucumber and lime. I mostly do that with gin or vodka. The pear + vanilla syrup was really good in a bourbon sour.

Other ways to change up a Whiskey Sour

Another super easy way to change up a Whiskey Sour is to add egg white. This will create a nice frothy top to the cocktail, and is also called a Boston Sour.

Boston Sour Recipe:

  • 2oz Whiskey
  • 1oz Simple Syrup
  • 1oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 Egg White

Combine ingredients in a shaker and dry shake for 30 seconds (shake with no ice). Add ice and do a wet shake for 30 seconds. Pour into a coupe.



The traditional garnish for a whiskey sour is an orange slice and a cherry. Since I use neither of those items in the making of a whiskey sour I never garnish with them. In fact I almost never garnish my whiskey sours.

The exception has been nutmeg. I got a nutmeg in a kit from Shaker and Spoon and have been zesting it over my Whiskey Sours ever since. It’s amazing. Especially with the Amaretto Sours. Trust me! Use a whole nutmeg!

Whole Nutmeg

My current favorite Whiskey Sour version is a Pear-Vanilla Boston Sour.

Pear-Vanilla Boston Sour Recipe:

  • 2oz Bourbon
  • 1oz Pear-Vanilla Simple Syrup
  • 1oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 Egg White

Combine ingredients in a shaker and dry shake for 30 seconds (shake with no ice). Add ice and do a wet shake for 30 seconds. Pour into a coupe. Garnish with zest of fresh nutmeg.

Pear-Vanilla Simple Syrup Recipe:

  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 Pear (peeled and chopped)
  • 1TBS Vanilla Paste
  • Vanilla Powder to Taste (optional)

Combine water, sugar, pear and vanilla powder (optional) in a saucepan. Boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla paste. Let sit for 30 mins. Strain into a bottle. Chill in fridge for 30 mins before using.

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Introducing “The Devine Double-D’s” of Sadie Vine. Sadie Vine is world-famous for 2-things: her high kick, and her boobs. Although, technically that’s 3 things. Sadie has a vast dance and theater background and is the lead organizer, script writer, and costume maven for Cabaret & Cocktails.

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