Mix it up with these Whisky Sour riffs

Classic Whisky Sour at Piccolo Bar, Sydney

Story by Andy Ratcliff, email him andrewjohn@me.comandrewjohn@me.com

The whisky sour is one of the oldest cocktails in existence. It dates back to the 1860s, but sailors had been drinking something similar for long before that. There are a bunch of early references to it, but the first official record of it is from our boy Jerry Thomas in 1962.  It’s also still around today and is one of the most ordered drinks in Australia. I think I’ve made over three thousand of them during my years as a bartender. It’s a simple and delicious cocktail that somehow became top of mind, probably thanks to bars like Shady Pines Saloon and The Baxter Inn. But if you’re bored of making it and want to suggest an alternative to your guests to mix it up, here are a few ideas…

Possibly the most important drink of the century from our guy Sam Ross of Attaboy in New York City. Sam created this riff on the Gold Rush at Milk & Honey and it gained momentum so fast that you could order it in most cocktail bars on the planet without explaining what’s in it.

He originally used a couple of Compass Box Whiskies, one blended for the body and one smoky to cap it off and he used a combination of ginger and honey to sweeten and spice it up.

Don’t serve this drink with a straw.


The term ‘Scofflaw’ was used in the early 1920s to describe a lawless drinker, and it’s easy to become one after realizing how many of these you can pound in a single session. They go down easily because the cocktail is sweetened with Grenadine. The addition of Dry Vermouth gives it some nice body, and adding Orange Bitters or Peychauds gives it a bit more depth.

Cameron’s Kick
The Cameron’s Kick first appeared in a 1922 book by Harry MacElhone called the ABC of Mixing Cocktails and it’s basically just a perfect mix of Scotch Whisky and Irish Whisky coupled with Orgeat (a French almond syrup) and Lemon juice. It’s an interesting mix but worthy of any iteration on the whisky sour.

Gold Rush
This is a ripper of a twist thought up by T.J. Siegal while drinking at the legendary New York bar Milk & Honey. It blends equal parts honey water and lemon with a high-proof Bourbon, originally Elijah Craig.

This is the worst drink ever. Jenna Hemsworth is the only bartender in the country who admires this drink, but despite her epic talent, she’s wrong. Sorry, Jenna!

New York Sour
This weird and wonderful twist was allegedly thought up in the late 1880’s in Chicago. It’s been labeled the Continental Sour, The Southern Whisky Sour and the Claret Snap but let’s be honest… It’s a Whisky sour with a float of red wine. It’s ok if you dial back everything else in the drink, but there nothing to write home about…unless you’re a sommelier.

You can thank the Savoy cocktail book for this not-so-well-known classic riff with the addition of absinthe to a Rye Sour, which was named appropriately because it will either “cure a rattlesnake bite, or kill rattlesnakes, or make you see them”. The Savoy cocktail book always delivers! This riff is absolutely killer!