Mixologists have rolled out differentiated versions of old fashioneds and Moscow mules, but now we’re seeing new recipes of whiskey sours pop up on bar menus. A traditional whiskey sour cocktail combines whiskey, lemon juice and a little sugar, and is often garnished with an orange slice and a cherry. New interpretations of this classic cocktail can appeal to younger consumers who increasingly favor unique beverages; in fact, more than two in five millennials (43%) are ordering more beverages with unique flavors now than they were two years ago, and almost half of millennials (48%) are willing to spend more on a restaurant item that features unique or new flavors, according to Technomic’s Flavor Consumer Trend Report. Here’s four ways operators have added twists to the traditional recipe.
Operators are using fruit jams and marmalades in place of actual fruits or fruit juices to differentiate. From a behind-the-bar perspective, this technique eliminates the need for added sugar. Fogo de Chao’s Whisky Jam Sour features whiskey shaken with raspberry jam, orange bitters and lemon sour, while Wildfire’s Old Kentucky Home combines bourbon, orange liqueur, sour mix and orange marmalade.
Beer and wine
Mashups are moving on to whiskey sours, as some operators are fusing the cocktail with beer and wine. The two alcohols add flavor variances and can change the mouthfeel and texture of the drink (particularly with carbonation from beer and sparkling wine). The upside of this whiskey sour version is that many operators can simply use what’s already in their bar, often pouring just a splash to shake up a sour. Red Robin’s Bourbon Sour features a red wine float; Pinstripes adds a splash of craft beer to its whiskey sour; and The Cheesecake Factory’s California Whiskey Sour incorporates sauvignon blanc.
Though orgeat almond syrup is not in a traditional whiskey sour recipe, adding it gives a sweet, nutty note to the classic cocktail. Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar serves an Almond Whiskey Sour in its Cocktails with a Twist menu section, featuring all the classic ingredients with the addition of orgeat to make the beverage “a little bit sour and a little bit sweet,” according to the chain’s menu.
Nontraditional fruits and fruit preps
Operators are supplementing the classic citrus fruits in whiskey sours with new fruit flavors that sometimes come in nontraditional forms for the cocktail. Brick House’s Blood Orange Whiskey Sour combines bourbon, lemon and blood orange liqueur, while HH Prime at the Omni Hotel in Hilton Head Island, S.C., serves a White Whiskey Berry Sour with whiskey, lime, sugar and strawberry puree.