The History of the Whiskey Sour


Today is World Whiskey Sour Day and while some of you have already finished drinking your whiskey sours for today and some are still only getting started on it, let us give you a little low down on how this incredible drink came about. For most, Whiskey Sour is a great way to tell people that you do drink whiskey, you just don’t mention that you mix it with something else. But for others, it’s the only drink they will ever consume. And both reasons are absolutely fine. To each their own and all that. But  how exactly did this come about?

So many cocktails over the years have had interesting and legendary beginnings, created by soldiers during World War or created by a former American president and the list goes on. Unlike a lot of the other famous cocktails, the Whiskey Sour has a simple and humble beginning. Cocktails are usually created by throwing in a mixture of ingredients together to see if they’ll stick. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, but every single time it’s a delicious concoction. Even to this day, bartenders create their own cocktails by experimenting with everything they possibly can and then giving it a fun and exciting name.

The Whiskey Sour

There are various versions of the history of this drink, but we’re going to give you all of them.

Some say that in 1862, Jerry Thomas wrote the recipe in a book called “The Bartender’s Guide”, even though the basic recipe was known a decade prior. The first documented reference to the Whiskey Sour was in a Wisconsin newspaper in 1870. But further research by various people have produced that the Universidad del Cuyo published a story in 1962 saying that a man named Elliott Stubb created the Whiskey Sour back in 1872.

How about the ‘sour’ part of the cocktail? Obviously it’s the usage of lime or lemon mixed in with the drink. But it is said that Vice Admiral Edward Vernon of England used to mix various ingredients together to serve his crew of sailors as they sailed from England to America and back. And to prevent scurvy, the sailors always had large rations of limes and lemons. But to protect himself from having a ship full of intoxicated sailors, the Vice Admiral watered down the liquor – usually rum – with lime juice which also masked the flavour. That’s the beginnings of the “sour”.


The Original Recipe

– 1 small bar glass

– Take 1 large tea-spoonful of powdered white sugar dissolved in a little Seltzer or Apollinaris water

– The juice of half a small lemon

– 1 wine-glass of Bourbon or rye whiskey

Fill the glass full of shaved ice, shake up and strain into a claret glass. Ornament with berries.

A lot of newer recipes suggest Maraschino cherries and an orange slice for the full effect, but there are so many version of the Whiskey Sour that there is no ‘right’ way to make it.

Now go forth and make your own drink, indulge a little and make the most of your Thursday!