The whiskey sour gets very little respect. Plenty of love, mind you, but not much respect.
I've seen it described as "the comfy T-shirt of cocktails," "the fried egg of cocktails," "the basic bitch of cocktails." So, OK, it's not a complicated drink, but most people like it well enough. I feel bad for the poor thing! So I decided to give it a remix and try to make it more of a bad bitch than a basic one. Unlike Taylor Swift's recent attempt to do the same thing, I think this one worked pretty well.
First I decided that spicy is always more exciting than sour, but I didn't want to go so spicy as to alienate drinkers. (Ahem, Tay-tay ... this may be where you went wrong. Moderation in all things, babe.)
So out came the Ancho Reyes, a beautiful little liqueur that enhances almost any base spirit you add it to – tequila and whiskey, sure, but also rum, vodka, even gin if you're careful. It's got a smoky spiciness, just like the smoked, dried chilis it's infused with.
After a first try with whiskey, I decided to use rye instead – Old Overholt has a spicy heat of its own that works well here. And a bit of preserved ginger plays along with the heat while also adding sweetness – I used Morris Kitchen, a small-batch syrup from Brooklyn, but you could make your own.
So there it is, a whiskey sour with a spicy new reputation, no snakes in sight. Look what you made me do!
2 ounces whiskey
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Combine whiskey, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Cover and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is very cold, about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over ice; garnish with orange slice and cherry.
2 ounces rye whiskey
1/2 ounce Ancho Reyes
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
1/2 teaspoon preserved ginger syrup
lemon peel and Luxardo cherry
Combine all liquids in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Cover and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is very cold, about 20 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass; garnish with lemon peel and cherry.