How IMPORTANT is sour in a Whiskey Sour

Published ~ October 23rd, 2020 | Updated ~ January 6th, 2021
Author ~ Carl Busch

What do you use to put the sour in your whiskey sour? It's all about the citrus in this week's tasting room, where we compare fresh squeezed lemon juice, lemon juice concentrate, and Finest Call Sweet & Sour mix. Cheers!

Show Transcript

This is the Tasting Room. Today we're gonna talk about the citrus component of a whiskey sour. Whiskey sours are one of my favorite cocktails, that an old fashioned. You enjoy whiskey sours right? Yes I do, I like them much more than old fashioned's because I'm not a huge fan of whiskey strike.

But yeah, whiskey sour, if you're not familiar, has four components, well five technically. You have your bourbon, rye, or whiskey, or whatever you want to choose as your main spirit, so you have sugar, you have a citrus, and you have a bitters, and then some people use an egg white, we are some of those people. You can find the recipe for what we believe is the perfect whiskey sour up here. But today what we're going to do is try three different whiskey sours, they're all made the exact same way, except for the citrus component is different in all three of them.


We have Finest Call, which is just your storebought generic $5 Sweet and Sour mix. You have your grocery store squeezed lemon juice, and you have your fresh lemon. We only have half a lemon because I only have, I only had one lemon in the house before I made this and this is all we had, so.

And you needed that half to make the drink.

To make the drink, correct. So the recipe, real quick, is an ounce and a half of whiskey, which we used Dickel 12, which is really good.


One of our super good friends, Sean, kinda got us on, on to this. I think it's about $24, that's for the eight year, this is the 12 year and it was only like four bucks more, so I went with this, but it's a very reasonable price. The cat is getting up in there, buy her a drink first.

Right. But, so I just want with this today then it's a threefourths ounce of citrus, threefourths ounce of sugar, one egg white, dry shake, wet shake, double strained into here. Now when I use this one, I did not add any sugar because it's called sweet and sour so there's sweetness already. And there's a bunch of ingredients back here that neither of us can really pronounce.

Oh, I can pronounce them.

She's the smart one remember.

Ingredients of Finest Call Sweet and Sour

In Finest Call Sweet & Sour mix you have water, high fructose corn syrup, lemon juice from concentrate, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium benzoate to preserve the freshness, sodium citrate, sodium metabisulfate, which is an antioxidant, and it contains sulfites. And then it's got polysorbate 60, FD&C yellow, #5.

Yeah, so that's how it makes it neon yellow.

And also can sit on your shelf for...



Ingredients of Store Bought Lemon Juice

Yeah, so and then this, the storebought one has water, lemon juice concentrate, sodium metabisulfite.


Yeah, preservatives, sodium benzoate, and then lemon oil. And this has?

Ingredients of a Lemon




Blind Taste Rules

Lemon. So, so yeah, we're gonna push these off to the side and the citrus components sitting in front of the drinks have nothing to do with the order of these are in, you have no idea which one's which, I do. So we're going to taste them, give you our feedback and then afterwards she's going to try to guess which one was made with which citrus component. Okay.

Does that all make sense?

It makes sense to me because I'm

That's all that matters

Extremely used to translating his speak.


Yeah, yeah.

Welcome to Carltalk.

Yeah, welcome to Carltalk where the English language kind of exists and most of it's made up.

You're welcome folks. Okay, so you pick which one you wanna start off with first. They all kind of have, I think they all kind of have the same kind of look and color to it just a little bit.


Visual Differences of the Cocktails

The only difference is the head on this one, the foaminess is kinda more broken up.


Now is that due to the cat walking on the table?

It could be.

Could be.

But it looks like the bubbles in this one are a little bit bigger.


Than in this one.


And this one definitely has the smallest bubble texture. I'm sure there's a word for that. I don't know, I don't know what that word is, but there's a word I'm sure.

Sure. I have my thoughts on the bubble thing but I need to say them after all this 'cause I think it might give it away if I have my

This one's lighter, this one's the lightest in color.


At least it could be glass concentration and all that too. But


All right, I have some theories, I have some thoughts.

Let's hear them real quick.

A Guess Based of Looks

I think this one is the Finest Call.


I think this one is the lemon juice and I think this one is the real lemon.


Strictly for bubble texture, because of preservatives, I wonder if preservatives have something to do with why the

Yeah maybe, I mean. I really don't know the answer to that but yeah, you would think the more chemicals it's gonna have a bigger reaction


With egg and with just the bourbon in general.


Tasting Begins

So which one, which one are we gonna try first?

Well I'm gonna try the one that's I think us Finest Call first.

Right, you don't because you wanna try to end on the high note right? Yeah, theoretically we're saving the best for last, you know, theoretically.


And that was dumb because all I smell is bitters.

Yeah .

Now I'm mad. I really like Dickel.

So do I.

It's a really nice whiskey. It's a really nice whiskey, it's basically the upgraded version of Jack Daniels.


You know, I mean, at the end of the day, it's just a sour mash

It's a sour mash whiskey.

Whiskey, so it's just, again, it's, we drink, I've drank it by itself in an old fashioned it's perfectly fine.

Oh yeah.

And a rum and Coke, or not rum and Coke, that's a whole nother episode.

In a whiskey Coke it's really good, you know, and I think, and whiskey sours. Again, I don't think you need to spend a lot of money on your bourbon whiskey or rye, when you're gonna make whiskey sours 'cause once you get past that $40 bottle price point I just don't think there's a difference. Again, are we foreshadowing to another episode where we use super expensive whiskeys? I don't know.

I think we should do an episode very soon with like the, like we did with the vodka.

Right, do like a Dickel, a Bulleit, and then go get some like Angel's.

Angel's Envy.

Angel's Envy where it's like $80 for a bottle.

Maybe not that much.

Well, I mean.

All right.


So anyway back to whiskey sours because we got off track.


I thought that was nice. It was a whiskey sour, it was everything I thought it would be.

It had.

It tasted like a whiskey sour, that's all I really have to say about it.

Okay, number two.

We're going go

[All] In order.

Oh, look a that, finishing each other's sentences.

You were supposed to stop when you said finish each other and I was supposed to say sentences, you failed.

Just like this marriage, just kidding. We gave it the good old college try kids.

Not even one year.

Not even one year.

So what do we we think?

I don't like that one as much, that one's kind of boring, like that one is really boring.

It is boring.

There's zero sour flavor.


Zero whiskey flavor. Whatever's in that cuts out all of the flavors and makes it nothing.

It's definitely watered down.

Yeah, and I mean it's just, and I use the same amount of ice, two small cubes, one medium size, so I tried to take out all the variables.

Yeah, yeah.

As humanly possible.

You made a very valid and reliable experiment, as we learned in psych, in psych.

Right, okay, so that one.

Not a fan.

I would be, I would be upset, so here's what's crazy too is like, if someone gave me a whiskey sour in a coup, I'm going to expect it should be amazing.


And glass, a glass presentation shouldn't matter, in my opinion, glass doesn't tell you anything, it doesn't make your drink better. But when you, someone uses a coup and gives you whiskey sour that should be amazing.

Because if nothing else to put a, to put a drink in this glass and make somebody carry it to you without spilling it.


I expect there to be some care in there.


Now when I go to a dive bar and they gave me a whiskey sour

In a pipe glass.

In that tumbler glass, you know, with the edges and stuff like that, I know what I'm getting, I don't mind.

And I feel like if I were to get this in that glass I would not be mad because I'd be paying $4 for it


And I would be okay.

But if you, if you paid for a whiskey sour and it comes in this glass, you're gonna be spending I would say at least $9, at least.

I think, yeah, maybe that might be kind of on the mid, low end, but.

Yeah, right. So, and it has me bothered. If someone gave me this I would be upset that I paid $9.00 for that.

For that one, yeah, for sure, absolutely.

Perfect, last one.

Why am I still smelling these ?

'Cause it's part, smelling things is part of the thing, right? Like you know

That's the point of bitters.


The point of bitters is an aromatic, but why?

See the wheels turning?

I'm going to have to completely reassess my opinions of all of these. I think I was very wrong.

But you were just going off looks


And just educated guesses.


Okay, so let's, let's not go there right now. What, what's your initial thoughts on this guy?

Eh, it's okay, that's about it.

It's not as watered down as this one.


But it doesn't still have that sour punch


That you're expecting 'cause when you drink a whiskey sour, again, you should be tasting sour, I mean the name says it alone, whiskey sour

Right, right.

That's it. The only reason you add sweetness is to kinda curb that sourness just a smidge.


I tasted a lot of whiskey.


I tasted a little sour and it was pretty sweet.


It wasn't not balanced, but it wasn't balanced either.

It wasn't balanced in the way a whiskey sour should be balanced.


It was balanced as in, if I'm gonna make all three of them just.

If I wanna make a drink to please literally everybody that doesn't really care about a whiskey sour, this is the one you're gonna with.

The Results

Okay, so, put what you think each one is behind the drink that you think they are.

Did I get it?

You got it right.

I did.

So the bubble thing.

Which one did you make first?

I made one, two, three.


I made them in that order. I think it has to do maybe with the shape of the glass


And the way it's poured in because there's a longer pour from here to here, than it is from here to here.


That is my only uneducated guess about that theory.


And I can definitely see why this breaks up more because this has no substance to hold it together.


There's really no glue. I mean the egg white's supposed to be the glue.

Right, but there's still, this is still mostly water.

Water, and that's why it's the first ingredient listed, and that's why it tastes so watered down.

Probably should've checked to make sure it was closed all the way before I started tipping it. Wouldn't that be funny?

You know, and then this, you know, again, this is okay. You could change the recipe of this one to make it taste better.

Yes, you could.

More sour, or more, you know, lemon, and a little bit less sugar


To get it that punch.


But that wasn't the goal, the goal was to make 'em all the same and just see what the straight up was. And of course this is gonna taste, this has that natural...

Sharp bite of citrus.

Yeah, it's that initial.

I'll be damned if I'm gonna, you're gonna drink all of this, no, the rest is mine, okay thanks.

Okay, so yeah, that has a nice bite to it and stuff like that. So at the end of the day I would, it's, I don't know what we're gonna do with this bottle of Finest Call. I have zero clue. Throw it down the drain. It's $5, you got $5?

Oh yeah, I got $5 .

Okay, good.

You can go buy two lemons for that.

Three for $2.00, three for $2.00.

Oh sorry, you can buy six, seven, 8 1/2 lemons?


Eight lemons.

Again, this is fine. I'm gonna be honest, this is, we don't use the HyVee brand, but we use a food distributors brand at Seven Hills, 'cause our volume of lemon juice and lime juice is crazy and I have adjusted those recipes to help make those stand out which they're still, they're good cocktails for what they are.

Our apologies.

Our cat is playing with a ball that we, he hides.

He hides them so when we take them away he finds them again.

Yes, 'cause he knows we're assholes and hides them on him.

I mean


To be fair it's really cute he likes to play fetch, we'll try to get a video and put it up.

Yep, so at the end of the day use fresh lemon and I get it. If you're going to have like 10 people over are you really going buy 10 lemons and squeeze all this lemon juice all the time for all the cocktails they're gonna use?

To make them each one or two cocktails?

One or two cocktails?

Probably not.

Probably not, you're gonna go with this. Just use a little bit more of this, probably about an ounce of this compared to 1/2 ounce of, not compared to, but adjusted lower sugar, more of this. Don't buy this, please don't. I mean at the end of the day, it's your fucking drinks, I don't care what you do, but we're just here to tell you not to do it. So yeah.


Any other final thoughts about a whiskey sour and the citrus component that we use?



Just drink good ones.


Just use good .

Well, since I'm gonna take one for the team.

I'm gonna drink this one right?

Yeah okay. Cheers guys.



I did not like that.


I did not like that.