The Whisky Sour + a miracle ingredient.
This is a nice simple drink for the whisky lover. It’s been around forever and is so standard it never even sees much discussion. Some may say a Whisky sour is bourbon, lemon juice and a teaspoon of sugar, shaken into a tumbler and they would not be wrong. Others may make a Daiquiri with Scotch instead of rum and they would not be wrong either. The name Whisky Sour is vague enough to be forgiving – a sour is, after all, an entire category of cocktails and not a single drink. Daiquiris, Gimlets and even Margaritas are all sours which adhere to the basic formula: spirit/citrus juice/sweetener. Where it might get just slightly divisive is on the question to use some egg white to give the drink a firm and creamy head or not. I say a firm “yes” to both. We’ll come back to that but first I’m going to try to stir up a little controversy. You see, I think that Bourbon likes lime juice more than the traditional lemon and that Scotch prefers lemon juice to lime. Try it both ways and see if you agree. We can fight it out in the comments section. In any case you have a wide range of options here so just tinker away until you find a formula you like. I’ve given two common versions below as starting points.
Back to the egg white thing. I have to admit, I’m a touch squeamish about raw egg white in my drinks. Sure, I’ll make a Whisky Sour and drink it but at the back of my mind a little voice is saying “wrong, wrong, wrong, you’ll get sick“. It tempers my enjoyment just a little. As well as that cracking and separating eggs can just be, well, messy. Fortunately a couple of new options have recently opened up. Pre-packaged pasteurised egg whites may have existed in the first world for some time but at last they are also available in my local supermarket. So that’s the mess and the Salmonella taken care of at least. That’s a good start but then I recently stumbled on something truly intriguing. Aquafaba. AquaTF? Exactly. It turns out vegans, bless their goat wool socks, have been looking for a alternative for egg whites in cooking for some time. Apparently the solution is exactly that – the liquid you find in a can of chickpeas. It will make your meringues fluffy, bind your beanburgers and might even give your Whisky Sour a firm foamy head. I know you’re checking the date right now but, no, I promise this is real. You can look it up if you don’t believe me because, amazingly, chickpea water actually has its own website. I find it faintly ridiculous that this miracle liquid has been given its own fancy-ass name but regardless I resolved to give it a try – if only to give vegans a chance to enjoy a good Whisky Sour. And, hey, if it works, a can of chickpeas has a much longer shelf life than eggs. I even have a bar snack recipe for the left-over chickpeas (fry chickpeas until crispy and dust with Spanish smoked pepper and a little salt). You know what? It totally works. It’s easy to pour (not slimy like egg white) produces a nice firm, smooth, foam head, has the right mouthfeel and, most importantly, doesn’t impart any discernible chickpea-iness to the flavour of the cocktail. The Whisky Sour I made (recipe #1 below, pictured above) was at least as good as any I’ve made with egg white, maybe even better. Wow – I’m still in shock. I don’t think there’s any way I’m going back to eggs now. Thanks vegans – I owe you one! Don’t get carried away though, I’m not ready to give up on the sausages and bacon any time soon.
Here are two basic ways of making a Whisk(e)y Sour. You can also switch them around and serve the Scotch based #1 on the rocks or the Bourbon #2 up. You can just as easily use Irish, rye or Canadian whisky.
Whisky Sour #1
2oz Scotch blended whisky (I used Johnnie Walker Red).
0.75oz fresh lemon juice (or lime juice).
0.5oz sugar syrup (1:1) to taste.
1oz Aquaf… Nah, chickpea juice.
Shake long and hard and strain into a chilled champagne coupé.
Toast Goose Wohlt and the vegan community for their bizarre, but useful, discovery.
Whiskey Sour #2
2oz Bourbon of choice.
0.75oz fresh lime juice (or lemon juice).
0.5oz sugar syrup (1:1) to taste.
Shake with ice and strain into a DOF glass containing fresh ice cubes.
Garnish with combinations of orange, lemon, lime and cherry. Or not.