Whiskey Sour Cocktail Recipe and History

Some drinks don’t give away their secrets by name alone. Take mainstays like the Long Island Iced Tea — its title reveals little, aside perhaps from the fact that Long Islanders have a twisted sense of humor. There are others like the Screaming Orgasm, the Alien Nipple … the list goes on.

The whiskey sour ain’t one of them.

The whiskey sour is the type of drink that looks you dead in the eye and says, “Here I am, take me or leave me.” Societies the world over have resoundingly responded in the affirmative, giving this deliciously refreshing drink popularity that knows no borders of nation, culture, or gender. It’s just a plain delicious drink through and through.

Make sure to dive into present-day whiskey around the world mapping. But now, let’s take a look at how the whiskey sour came to be and how to make one yourself that will knock your proverbial socks off. 

The History of the Whiskey Sour

Ahoy, matey! Grab your sea legs — this story takes us to the open ocean.

By the 1860s, the British Navy had been dominating global colonialist efforts for centuries, sailing to new continents and surprising whoever happened to live there by announcing that their land now belonged to the Crown.

Making these long journeys required months or years at sea. Many sailors set off on arduous voyages only to make landfall for a night before turning around and making the next one. While their ships moved relatively swiftly for the age, crossing the Atlantic and other oceans took weeks or months.

Anyone with a refrigerator knows that plenty can go wrong with perishable goods over the course of a couple of weeks. Imagine a couple of months at sea with damp, grimy ship hulls full of rodents and sloshing seawater, and you see how reserves of food and water might be challenged.

Well, there’s a magical drink that doesn’t go bad no matter how gnarly things get: spirits.

The British Footprint

It’s no secret that the British Navy sailors did not mind a stiff drink to break the monotony of months at sea. Whiskey calmed the nerves and made long periods of dullness tolerable. But another problem naturally arose: scurvy.

Far from being simply a great word with a pirate accent, scurvy is a deadly, excruciating illness that killed over two million sailors between Columbus’ voyage and the arrival of steam engines in the mid-1800s. In 1753, James Lind found that citrus juice helped prevent the illness from forming (we know today that it was simply due to a lack of vitamin C).

Sailors would gobble down lemons and limes to prevent scurvy, earning them the name “Limeys” but preventing them from, you know, dying.

You can see where this is going. Even whiskey starts to taste a bit bland after months at sea. Why not combine it with that mouth-puckering lemon and lime juice? All that was left to perfect the recipe was sugar and water. The practice had been going on for decades, but in 1862, a book called The Bartender’s Guide: How to Mix Drinks published the first known recipe.

whiskey sour cocktail recipe

Whiskey Sour Cocktail Recipe

Whiskey sour perfection in a glass is the best way to end a long day and excellent to commemorate any occasion. Whiskey connoisseurs know exactly what we mean.

The following recipe nails all the important elements:

  • The sunny tartness of lemon juice
  • The warm hug of whiskey
  • The delightful sweetness of simple syrup
  • Prep Time 3 Minutes
  • Cook Time 1 Minutes
  • Total Time 5 Minutes
  • Serves 1 People
  • Calories 163 kcal


  • 2 fl. oz. whiskey
  • ¾ fl. oz. freshly squeezed lemon (or lime) juice*
  • ¾ fl. oz. simple syrup or your favorite sweetener substitute
  • Full orange slice and 1 maraschino cherry for garnish


  1. Combine the whiskey, citrus juice, and sweetener in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Throw in some ice until the shaker is full.
  3. Cover it up and shake it like a polaroid picture.
  4. Stop shaking when the outside of the shaker is quite cold (~20 sec).
  5. Set up a Hawthorne strainer over a rock or old-fashioned glass.
  6. Strain that bad boy into the glass and add your garnishes to complete the deal.


* You absolutely must use fresh-squeezed citrus juice here — that concentrated stuff in plastic fruit-shaped bottles is no substitute!

Strain Pairing

While a whiskey sour cocktail can be paired with a variety of cannabis strains, we highly recommend you try out the Lemon OG or Northern Lights. You’re in for a delicious double treat!

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Brooklyn native, accent-having, travel lover, wordsmith and bud enthusiast. Versed from the streets of NYC, mixed with some world influence, writer/editor and medical user extraordinaire, JJ is here to tell you like it is and guide you to the finest. Brooklyn's favorite feminine stoner, your neighborhood contributor, wrapping leaves like a bandage and bringing you along for the ride.

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