Whisky Sour for Beginners: An Easy Recipe from Local Bartending School


New bartender, meet Whisky Sour. Whisky Sour, meet my friend. They’re new to life behind the bar.

This almost two-hundred-year-old old cocktail needs to find a place in your bartending toolbelt. Why? It’s still a super popular drink that’s ordered all the time and you’ll definitely want to practice making it.

If you don’t, you’ll end up looking like a bartender poser and you don’t want to do that, do ya?

That’s why we’re here to help. The pros at Local Bartending School will give you the whisky sour run-down and an easy recipe – both with egg and without egg.

Plus, we’ll give tips only found in professional bartending lessons and mixology classes!

Let’s dive right in.

Cocktail History of the Whisky Sour

Put on your sea legs, boys and girls. To discover the history of the whisky sour, we’re traveling in a cracking wooden boat back to the mid-1800s.


Though not named yet, the whisky sour’s legend lies in the belief that a lack of vitamin C leads to scurvy. Scurvy was a common health condition that caused extreme tiredness, anemia, and bleeding that eventually could lead to infection and death.

Weeks upon weeks on the sea led our sailors to become malnourished, especially in the vitamin C department. Sailors combined small amounts of citrus fruits, like lemon, lime, and oranges, and mixed them up with brandy or rum.

So, that’s where the sour started! This sea-borne cocktail finally got its name in 1870 when a newspaper in Wisconsin debuted the term ‘whisky sour’.

What is a whisky sour?

An old-school, traditional cocktail made of whiskey, sugar, and lemon or lime juice.

An Easy Whisky Sour Recipe (With Egg and Without Egg!

The traditional recipe for this delicious cocktail calls for an egg white. But usually, restaurant bars don’t serve breakfast, so you’re S.O.L. as far as the egg goes.

Unless you bring your own, you overachiever.

So most of the time, when you make or order a whisky sour, it’ll be without an egg.

That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook! Nice try, though.

“Hand-crafted classic cocktails are a huge trend right now in the spirit industry,” our go-to whisky sour professional and instructor at Local Bartending School Carlos Navia tells us, “it’s important to teach the proper traditional recipe.

We’ll give you the easy recipe just below, but if you need a more hands-on approach you can get a private lesson from Carlos or any one of our Local Bartending School instructors!

Here are the items you’ll need, at the bar and at home.
  1. Shaker
  2. Ice
  3. Hawthorn Strainer
  4. Coupe glass

Egg Recipe

  • 2 ounces whiskey (bourbon or rye of your choice)
  • 1-ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1, sugar to water)
  • 1/2 ounce or 1 small egg white
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Glass: Rocks glass
  • Garnish: lemon peel or maraschino cherry
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker.
  2. Shake.
  3. Add ice and shake again until frothy.
  4. Strain and serve in a coupe glass.
  5. Garnish and serve deliciousness.

Hot Tip: Carlos says the biggest challenge of this recipe is separating the egg whites. Practice this skill during breakfast time and you’ll be set by the time you step foot behind the bar.

Non-Egg Recipe

  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 3/4 ounce simple syrup, to taste
  • Glass: Rocks glass
  • Garnish: lemon peel or maraschino cherry
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker.
  2. Shake.
  3. Add ice and shake again until frothy.
  4. Strain and serve in a coupe glass.
  5. Garnish and serve to your happy bartop.

Whisky Sour Tips from Local Bartending School (Just for Beginners!)

Mixology classes and bartending courses are great for tips from the instructors, just like Carlos. So, we wanted to give you a taste of what kind of tips you’ll get from us at Local Bartending School.

Here are 3 whisky sour tips, straight from Carlos’ mouth.

  1. The trick to making a great whiskey sour is a “Dry Shake”. Combine all the ingredients in your mixing tin/shaker with NO ice. Cover, and give it a good dry shake. Then, add ice to your tin and shake it again. The dry shake will give the cocktail extra froth – this is the magic secret to the classic whiskey sour!

  2. Don’t add your bitters until the very end. The traditional recipe calls for a few dashes of bitters but, don’t add the bitters in the tin! The bitters should be dashed on top of the cocktail after you strain it into a glass.

  3. Bonus Tip from Carlos! The bitters on top creates an awesome visual effect when dropped in three straight dots across the frothy top of the cocktail. People love visually appealing drinks and they WILL tip you extra for added little details, folks!

  4. Celebrate National Whisky Sour Day with your bartop on August 25th. Give your regulars a reason to love this traditional cocktail each year. Plus, you’ll probably increase your check average while you’re at it!

Whisky Sour FAQs

● How do you make a whiskey sour from scratch?

○ Easily! Just follow one of the two recipes above. For beginners, we recommend the pro recipe without egg.

● What is the difference between a whiskey sour and old-fashioned?

○ The main difference is there’s no citrus juice in an old-fashioned.

● Can you use any whiskey for a whiskey sour?

○ Indeed! You can even use bourbon or rye. As you’ll learn in future mixology courses, don’t be afraid to try different brands, liquors, etc.

● What is the best whiskey sour mix?

Rose’s, Mr. and Mrs. T, and Finest Call are all industry standards. Plus, you can easily order them for your at-home bar!

● What does whisky sour mean?

○ This phrase refers to a delish adult cocktail made of sour citrus juice combined with whisky. Add a little sugar to sweeten it up and viola – whisky sour.

● What does whisky sour taste like?

○ A whisky sour, according to our team at Local Bartending School, will have a perfect marriage between sweet and sour. The citrus juices will bring out the dominant flavors in the whiskey, whether it be oak, honey, or floral notes. The mouthfeel is smooth and silky.


Don’t Strain Yourself! Local Bartending School Can Help

Do you feel ready to make a whisky sour now that you know some history, two tasty recipes, and have some pro tips to whip out? We believe in you!

But in case you need some help….

You can make the very best whisky sour with the help of our industry veteran instructors. Our instructors, just like Carlos, will show you how to make a whisky sour at home with private bartending lessons!

All of our lessons are crafted for beginners, so you’ll be starting right where you feel comfortable.

Share Cocktail Knowledge with Your Friends!

Do any of your bartender or cocktail-loving friends need this citrusy Whisky Sour recipe and how-to? They’ll thank you for it later, we’re sure. Share this post on your social media to spread the juicy word. (Pun 100% intended.)


Whiskey Sour – History and Recipe – Cocktails. Whisky Monster. (2020, August 31). https://www.whiskymonster.com/whiskey-sour-cocktail-history-and-recipe/.

The Whiskey Sour Is a Simple Drink With Many Options. (2021, April 2). The Spruce Eats. https://www.thespruceeats.com/whiskey-sour-recipe-761273

Carrie Jean Lipe

Carrie Lipe has been writing creatively since childhood but jump-started her professional writing after college. She's an Indiana native, Ball State Hospitality graduate, and a bartender with over 10+ years in the industry. You can find her making basil Moscow mules when she's not writing. Follow her professional journey on Instagram! @contentbycarriejean