1940s Recipes + Menus

Whisky Sour

November 1946
The sour is a bar benchmark, a bit like roast chicken at a French bistro or a scoop of vanilla at the ice cream parlor. This recipe’s “bar syrup” is just simple syrup: Stir one part sugar and one part water until the sugar has dissolved. It should go without saying, but if you don’t like the way your water tastes, don’t use it to make simple syrup (or, even worse, ice cubes).

While many folk decry the mixing of fruit juice of any kind with bourbon, the Whisky Sour is far too important a drink to pass by without a mention. Also, for some reason, a lot of folk seem not to know the acid proportions [and] tend to make it entirely too citric for good tummy reaction later. Routine is simple: Into a shaker put 2 ounces bourbon (1 1/2 for the ladies, perhaps), 1/2 teaspoon of bar syrup—not sugar, please—and 2 level teaspoons of lemon juice. Shake hard with ice to chill; strain into a sour glass, which is nothing more or less than a small-sized highball glass of around 10-ounce capacity. Add some fairly fine ice, cap with well-chilled seltzer or club soda, and garnish with a slice of orange, pineapple stick, or red cherry. Serve with a spoon, so guests can stir it now and then to distribute the water from the melting ice within.
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