In studying up my basic bartending (and seeking flavors that elevate my growing whiskey cabinet), one finds themselves contemplating the tiny, lonely shelves in the dimly lit corners of the local liquor store. Beyond the racks of poorly timed Chardonay and useless Sherry, nestled past the dusty, unused shelf of margarita mixes and pre-made buttershots, rests a delightful corner of vibrant curiosities and surprising pairings.
It was here I stumbled upon the endless enjoyment of the Wild Moon's offerings, and there, tucked quietly on stack of cardboard boxes, was a Whiskey Sour mix. Intrigued, and short on budget, I snagged it for experimentation.
This remains a SOLID purchase, with many more to follow.
Now, the purists out there would say to make your own mix, and leave the sour to your own mixology. I am learning, and while I do pretty well, there is something joyous about opening the fridge, and pouring out an ounce or two of something that I know will fit the palette.
It's basically juice, and sometimes that's exactly what we need.
So What IS A Whiskey Sour?
Part of a family of citrus-based cocktails, the Whiskey Sour is traditionally achieved by mixing a few ounces of harsh Bourbon with Lemon Juice and Simple Syrup. Layers of orange and cherry are sometimes added. If you're using the mix, like this dumb DM, just some Bourbon and a shot of the mix, and we're set.
One problem, though.
I don't like Bourbon.
So, in true Moonriver style, let's go DEEPER.
Variations On The Sour
Just like my study of the Moscow Mule, replacing and restructuring a Whiskey Sour ain't no thing, and the list can get pretty involved. And, just as when you make enough adjustments and replacements to achieve a distinct palette, so do you gradually destroy the spirit of the drink until is wholly something else entirely. So, instead, for one's clear edification, I'll give you the three common, and pretty simple, variations.
Still Bourbon, still Syrup, but add an Egg White froth to mitigate the bite of the whiskey. Who knew!
MAPLE RYE SOUR
Like I said, I don't enjoy Bourbon for more than a taste, and though the elevations in Rye and its full spectrum are growing on me, I am very curious how the Irish Mist will behave in this climate.
I propose the following for a taste test:
1 oz Irish Mist Honey Whiskey
1 oz Scotch Whiskey
1/2 oz Honey Liqueur
2 oz Whiskey Sour mix (because I'm awesome, get over it)
I know this looks like A LOT of honey, but hear me out. It's the Syrup and the commonality of the maple that draw me toward that end of wheel. I know from experience that the Irish Mist isn't a strong flavor on its own, but it explodes when paired with a honey liqueur. The brightness of the Scotch should heighten the drink's finish while providing a minimal bite. I only hope that the mix doesn't drown them all out...
+ Sour syrup and honey is a curious thing to enjoy
+ Just like in previous tests, that honey liqueur is a stealthy lady, sneaking in at the end
+ The Scotch is sharper than I thought
+ Beautiful color
+ Warmth, subtle and smooth
Maybe not something I'll put on my menu, or something I reach for when other options are always available, but it is a fine illustration of a flavor set working together beautifully. The experience actually makes me wonder about the merits of a Sweet and Sour approach, or the heightened subtlety in only a splash of Simple and Lemon.
A set for another day. This weary tavern keep has pushups to do.
See you at the table.
Professional Game Master musician, music teacher, game designer, amateur bartender, and aspiring fiction author.
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