Out of all the American inventions — the cotton gin, jazz, the light bulb, the phonograph — I’m going to say that the cocktail is easily my favorite (though there is evidence that the British beat us to it, sort of).
Regardless, American bartender Jerry Thomas documented his ‘invention” in his 1862 bar manual, Bar-Tender’s Guide. In it, there is a recipe for the Whiskey Sour. The sour is a classic, yet very simple concoction that most bartenders still don’t get right. It is not a drink made by combining a spirit and the contents of a store-bought bottle of “sour mix.” That’s a definite no-no.
Rather, it is made by combining fresh citrus, sugar and spirit. Just as simple, but the latter will result in a far superior cocktail. And it’s so much better when you add one additional ingredient: an egg white.
OK, I know I just lost half of you there. However, for the less squeamish readers, the addition of the egg white (not the yolk), your sour will transcend your cocktail palate and open you up to a whole new world of taste and texture. Of course, there is always the threat of salmonella, so make sure you use clean pasteurized eggs that have been kept refrigerated.
What the egg white does is create a creamy, foamy texture that can’t be found in most drinks. Plus, it’s a blast to see how much foam you can shake up. Sours can be made using any spirit, but whiskey and gin are my favorites. Lime can be substituted for lemon, particularly with rum.
Kevin Hopper is the bar manager at a classic cocktail haven called Capitol Bar on West State Street.
Classic Whiskey Sour
2 oz. Premium bourbon (I suggest Woodford Reserve)
1/2 oz. Fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. Simple syrup
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake contents for 30 seconds, strain into a mixing glass. Shake contents again (and don’t be gentle). The second iceless shake is called “dry shake” and will help create a substantial amount of foaminess. Strain into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon rind or maraschino cherry. Sip contently with an egg white mustache.