The secret to making the perfect whiskey sour, according to an Irish whiskey expert

whiskey sour

A whiskey sour is traditionally garnished by an orange wheel.

Courtesy of Adare Manor

Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.


For golf fans, this coming Thursday is circled on the calendar as the start of the Valspar Championship, in Palm Harbor, Fla. But for a larger swath of the human population, the date is significant for a different reason: it’s March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, an occasion marked in many parts of the world by parades, festivals, and the symbolic wearing of green attire.

Every now and then, cocktails are also enjoyed.

Tommie Doyle knows something about that last part. He’s the whiskey ambassador at Adare Manor, a luxury resort in County Limerick, Ireland, that is home to a rollicking Tom Fazio course and a refined redoubt called The Tack Room, where Doyle holds forth behind the bar.

Among the favorites on his menu is the whiskey sour, a classical cocktail that he prepares with bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg whites. That’s one way to do it. But given the vastness of the spirit university, and the great variety of whiskeys out there, Doyle says the possibilities are boundless. Just find the whiskey that suits your palate, follow a few guidelines and you’ll have no trouble whipping up your own version at home.

How Sweet it Is

A whiskey sour gets its name for a reason. But there’s still sugar in it. At the Tack Room, Doyle relies on a 2-to-1 water to sugar syrup, which he says helps create a silky body, but he says that any sugar is fair game. Where lighter sugars allow the spirit to shine through more clearly, darker sugars add more depth and complexity. Play around and find the profile that fits your taste.

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The Proper Acidity

Sailors in bygone days mixed citrus with whiskey as a safeguard against scurvy. Nowadays, we do the same because it tastes good. What citrus flavor should you use? Lemon is the “golden standard,” Doyle says. But lime and grapefruit work nicely, too.

Eggs-acting Details

Egg whites add wondrous frothy texture. Just make sure the eggs are exceedingly fresh, and that you separate them cleanly. Don’t let any yolk into the mix.

Getting in the Spirit

In keeping with classic whiskey sour tradition, Doyle uses bourbon, which he appreciates for its oaky character. But there are no set rules.  Different whiskeys have different profiles. Go with whatever spirit moves you.

Whip It Good

In a proper whiskey sour, a silken foaminess is essential. But, Doyle says, you don’t want to spend “the whole night shaking.” Save yourself the effort and use either a standard blender or an immersion blender.  Blitz for ten seconds, or just until the drink has become airy and light, Doyle says. “Then add ice and shake and amaze your guests with beautiful whiskey sours.”

And for the Garnish?

Once again, it’s dealer’s choice. But an orange wheel and a maraschino cherry make up the traditional finishing touch.

Josh Sens Contributor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.