The whiskey sour was my first cocktail I every ordered (legally) at a bar. I was having a rather angsty college semester and asked the bartender at Daedalus to recommend a drink that was boozy but sweet. I think he could tell I was a neophyte in the world of cocktails and thus didn't want to throw anything too sophisticated at me.
In typical personal fashion, the whiskey sour became my mixed drink of choice for about two years straight and I ordered it almost exclusively when I went out. At some point, however, my body rebelled against processed sour mix (hardly shocking) and I had to change it up. But now I'm getting back into the whiskey sour and mixing better ones for myself and my friends, thanks to some helpful recipes and better quality spirits.
Most recently, I experimented making a whiskey sour with some spectacular over-proof Laphroaig, which produced dangerous but delicious results. "For shame," I can hear some of you chiding, "what a waste of a classy spirit." To your admonishment, I say, "Only if you debase the whiskey with some cheap-ass sour mix."
Making your own is not terribly difficult , and needless to say, very much worth it. Some recipes also incorporate an egg white, which I do recommend if you like a good froth to your cocktail. Without it, a whiskey sour is still a whiskey sour; however, don't skimp on the proper garnishes (a maraschino cherry and orange slice). Without them, your drink will be reduced to a lame dorm-party-style highball and lack that citrus flavor and fleeting sweet berry zing characteristic of the true whiskey sour experience.
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Americans were apparently enjoying the whiskey sour long before I began my own decade-long love affair with the drink. Some sources cite an 1870 Wisconsin newspaper article as the first published mention of the whiskey sour, while others claim English steward Elliot Stub (who also invented the Pisco Sour) created the drink just a few years later. Regardless of its origins, the whiskey sour has endured for a long time and will continue to do so....with or without me. But I"m still happy to help out, especially on its national holiday.