Whiskey Sour

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

End the Month with this Sour Cocktail

End the Month with this Sour Cocktail

by David Klemt

Sour cocktail on table in high-end bar

End the month of August with a promotion focusing on one of the most popular members of the iconic sour cocktail family.

As I’ve been saying in several of this month’s articles, August is full of bar holidays. This month we celebrate Albariño, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Prosecco. And that’s just the wine holidays, which also include National White Wine Day and National Red Wine Day.

Additionally, National Rum Day and Mai Tai Day in August. Apparently, however, eight bar holidays just isn’t enough. And that’s awesome.

You see, we have another bar holiday to celebrate this month. National Whiskey Sour Day takes place on Thursday, August 25.

The Sour Family

Family, category, type… There are several ways to distinguish groups of cocktails.

And depending on your source preference, there are either a handful of families or at least twenty. Hey, why make things easy when we can obsess over minutiae and argue with our peers?

One of the most popular lists of families comes from Gary “Gaz” Regan, an icon in his own right. Sadly, he died on November 15, 2019. Regan’s 2003 book Joy of Mixology identifies “sours” amongst 19 other families.

In 1862, Jerry Thomas included several sours in his book The Bar-Tenders Guide. (a.k.a. How to Mix Drinks). You’ll find the Brandy Sour, Gin Sour, Santa Cruz Sour, and Whiskey SOur. However, a cocktail need not include “Sour” in its name to be part of this cocktail family.

Consider the characteristics of a sour: a base spirit, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener. In some cases, also egg whites.

So, those defining elements place the Collins, Daiquiri, Margarita, French 75, Gimlet, Mojito, Paloma, Rickey, Sidecar, and Southside in the sour family. However, some would place the members of this group that call for a carbonated element into either the Champagne or so-called “sparkling sour” family.

Now, if you really want to get pedantic, the Whiskey Sour could be a member of the Punch family as well.

The Whiskey Sour

So, does it surprise you to learn that we don’t know the exact origin of the Whiskey Sour? As in, we don’t know precisely who to credit for creating this classic?

Well, it shouldn’t, as cocktail history is quite often murky and mysterious at best.

However, we know that the first appearance of the Whiskey Sour recipe is from Jerry Thomas’ The Bar-Tenders Guide. So, that means the cocktail was known in 1862.

Yet, it’s believed that this recipe was known for at least a hundred years prior. Interestingly, one can argue that the Whiskey Sour is sibling to Grog. In the 1700s, British Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon commanded captains to allow sailors to purchase sugar and limes to make their watered down rum rations taste better.

Hey, sounds like a base spirit, lemon or lime juice, and sweetener to me.

Alright, that’s enough history for you to share with your guests. To celebrate National Whiskey Sour Day, create a handful of LTOs. This can be as easy as offering a Whiskey Sour menu featuring an array of bourbons or other whiskeys. Additionally, you can menu a signature Whiskey Sour and have variants such as the New York Sour or Penicillin accompany it.

Also, if your local legislature permits the discounting of alcohols, you can offer a discount on Whiskey Sours. For food pairings, consider barbecue pork dishes, Cheddar cheese, or brie.

“Gaz” Regan’s Cocktail Families

For the curious, below is the list of cocktail families according to “Gaz” Regan, in alphabetical order:

  1. Beer- and Cider-based
  2. Bottled
  3. Champagne
  4. Cobblers
  5. Duos and Trios
  6. French-Italian
  7. Frozen
  8. Highballs
  9. Hot
  10. Infusions
  11. Jelly Shots
  12. Juleps
  13. Milanese
  14. Muddled
  15. Orphans
  16. Pousse-cafes
  17. Punches
  18. Snappers
  19. Sours
  20. Tropical

Image: Ambitious Creative Co. – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

by David Klemt

Whiskey in Fine & Rare NYC glass

This Saturday is the eleventh annual celebration of World Whisky Day, the perfect day to highlight your whisky and cocktail menus.

One revenue-generating method of drawing in guests is a promotion showcasing popular, lesser-known, or rare whiskies. Operators can also create a whisky and beer combo promotion.

Of course, there’s also the specialty cocktail menu. There are a few different approaches to this promotion.

An operator and their bar team can focus on one specific cocktail, offering three or four “takes” on it. Another way to make this work is to take the same cocktail and feature a different whisky in each one.

A different approach is to create a World Whisky Day menu consisting of three or more of the most popular whisky cocktails. To help you identify which drinks to feature we looked into the top whisky drinks. Check them out below.

Old Fashioned

C’mon—you knew this was going to be on the list before you read past the title of this article. Drinks Digest ranked the Old Fashioned the number-one cocktail of 2021.

VinePair‘s list didn’t rank their most-popular cocktails overtly but this classic got its expected mention.

Manhattan

Just like the Old Fashioned, you expected this drink to make this list. While it can certainly be made with bourbon or an array of single malt American whiskies, the Manhattan shines when made with rye.

Whisky Sour

As Drinks International points out, the Whisky Sour may not be the top drink in most bars. In fact, it may not make it into their top three.

However, the simple but refreshing Whisky Sour is at least in the top ten of several bars, making it a solid choice for your specialty menu.

Boulevardier

Want to get some of the cocktail aficionados among your guests to flip out? Tell them loudly and confidently that the Boulevardier is better than the Negroni. That’ll certainly get them talking.

Or, hey, don’t do that. Just perfect this bourbon cocktail, a cousin of the Negroni, and highlight your build for World Whisky Day.

Mint Julep

The Kentucky Derby may be over but summer is just around the corner. People are still craving this centuries-old cocktail and VinePair called it “essential” last year.

Sazerac

Like many classics, the Sazerac was “medicinal” when it was first created in the 1830s. In 2008, this drink was made the official cocktail of New Orleans by the Louisiana state legislature.

The Sazerac is another cocktail recipe that VinePair said was an essential one for bars in 2021.

Vieux Carré

It’s difficult to overstate the important role New Orleans has played and continues to play in American cocktail culture.

The recipe, created about 100 years after the Sazerac, combines American whisky (rye, traditionally), Cognac, Bénédictine, sweet vermouth, and Peychaud’s bitters.

Penicillin

Created by Sam Ross when he was behind the stick at Milk & Honey, this is my favorite whisky cocktail. The recipe was one of Punch’s most popular last year, and it was on Drinks International’s top 50 list for 2021.

On a personal note, this is one of my all-time favorite whisky cocktails. In fact, the Penicillin is one of my favorite cocktails in general.

Honorable Mentions

These may not be top sellers for most bars (if any) but they’re worth consideration for World Whisky Day.

The Chauncey is a 1:1:1:1 combination of rye whisky, Cognac, gin, and sweet vermouth plus two dashes of orange bitters, served up.

Of course, there’s also the Mule, which lends itself to an incredible number of riffs. Select a whisky or two to come up with specialty Mules of your own.

Irish whisky stands out in an Irish coffee, which can be served iced/frozen when it’s hot outside.

And then we have the Rob Roy. If you want to be glib about it, this is a Manhattan made with Scotch rather than rye whisky.

Your Own Data

There’s an excellent resource for determining what drinks to feature at your restaurant or bar. It’s quite literally at your fingertips: your POS.

If you want to know what your guests are drinking and what they want, run a report.

How deep you get into the data is up to you, of course. Monthly, quarterly, seasonally, annually… There are myriad methods to determine your World Whisky Day’s best options.

Sure, you can probably safely assume that your top whisky cocktails are the same as those above. But why not be absolutely certain with your own data? You invest money and time into your POS—wring everything you can out of it.

Also, your bar team and servers. Ask them what whiskies guests have been asking for that you don’t have.

Use your POS to identify the whiskies gathering dust in your stockroom, then find a way to move them quickly (a well-priced LTO should work) and replace them with what guests want.

Image: YesMore Content on Unsplash

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