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Local Libations: The Sour Mash – a Summer Whiskey Sour

2011 August 12

By Andrew StatesWhiskey Raspberry Sour ingredients

Though tempted to relay off Allison’s day drinking theme (and doing it in private anyway), I opted to follow more socially acceptable norms and relay off an ingredient I’d heretofore overlooked and attempt something involving locally grown raspberries.  Inadvertently, I ended up standing before the same vendor Allison mentioned in her post, Berried Treasures, at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan.  Gathering a bundle of the sharply sweet berries, along with a package of blackberries for good measure, I headed home to try my hand at a riff on the Whiskey Sour.

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Whiskey Sours garner short shrift in the current cocktail climate.  The takeaway being that they’re too simple, too basic, for our supposedly sophisticated palates.  There isn’t much to them, no doubt about that.  They combine the three basics of cocktail recipes:  a spirit, something sweet and something sour.  The trick, as with all simple things, is to find balance within the austerity.  It’s the noticeable difference between the coldness of something made with factory precision, and the nonchalant warmth of a well-crafted piece formed in the capable hands of an artisan.  Aside from that, there are some who assert that Sours are the basis for many other drinks.  Margaritas, Collins, Side Cars and Cosmopolitans are simply a few of the progeny noted by professional Barman, Master Mixoligist and member of the Board of Directors of The Museum of the American Cocktail, Chris McMillian.  The Whiskey Sour’s simplicity should not be seen as a reason to avoid it, but rather an impetus toward mastery.  Everyone can make a Sour, but not everyone can make a good one.

For this recipe, the trick is to find the right proportions.  The tartness inherent in the raspberries needs to be accounted for by either an increase in sugar/simple syrup or a decrease in lemon juice.  A pretty standard Whiskey Sour calls for the juice of half a lemon and anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon of sugar.  I like mine with a little more bite so I elected for a Sour with less lemon rather than add more sugar.  Raspberries aren’t without their own sweetness and, after a few unsuccessful attempts, I found what I thought was the right balance.  The Whiskey I chose was Kings County Distillery’s Bourbon.  While still young and bearing a little too much corn flavor, its sweetness helped the sugar come through without becoming overpowering.  By the end I had something good for summer (day or night) and a pleasingly bright angle to add to the Sour family.  Just as a quick note on preparation:  Don’t bother trying to strain the mix into a glass.  The raspberry pulp pretty much keeps that from happening and makes you wonder how your drink suddenly got so small.



Prep time- 2 minutes


Mixing glass, muddler, jigger or ounce measurement, teaspoon, shaker.


  • 2 oz Kings County Bourbon
  • 1/4 Lemon
  • 5-6 raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Ice


In a mixing glass or shaker

  1. Combine lemon juice, raspberries and sugar.
  2. Muddle ingredients.
  3. Add Bourbon.
  4. Add ice.
  5. Shake vigorously.
  6. Pour into glass.
  7. Top with fresh cherry.
  8. Drink.

The Sour Mash