Sex On The Beach, it just doesn’t do it for me. Neither do Orgasms. Not terribly Cosmopolitan of me, I know. But I’m just not that kind of girl. A cocktail drinker that is.

My knowledge of hard tack and cocktails was kinda up there with No 1’s ability to make sense of income statements and read balance sheets. Notable for all the wrong reasons. But that all changed recently when a plum job working on hundreds of spirit brands for an online retailer forced me to brush up a bit. Or a lot. And boy did I learn.

Apparently rum is not just rum. Oh no, you have your white, your dark, your gold and your spiced. Ditto tequila, which offers you choices of reposado, anejo, flavoured, white or silver and gold! Who knew? Certainly not me. But the greatest revelation was probably whisky. Which can be malt or grain. And it can be single or blended. And blended just from malt whisky, just from grain or a mix of both. And then there is Bourbon. Which is a whisky. Only it’s from America, so they spell it ‘whiskey’, like the Irish. Go figure.

As part of my up-skilling efforts, the fascinating world of cocktails unfolded. I already knew I do not like them sweet and colourful or creamy and cloying. Which pretty much rules out anything offered on Happy Hour menus. Imagine my surprise then when I discovered that I really, really do like them old-fashioned. As in a martini, a mint julep or a gimlet. The kind of thing I imagine Cole Porter used to shake up when he was kicking back and being glamorous in Venice or the French Riviera.

And this folks is how I discovered the whiskey sour. You have to spell it whiskey, because you must use Bourbon. The recipe is ridiculously simple. It’s just Bourbon, lemon (some lime if you have) and sugar. In the cocktail shaker it goes with plenty of ice and 60 seconds later you have what I now consider to be one of the finest drinks mankind has ever invented.

The recipe I found in a lovely old cocktail book demands two parts Bourbon to one part lemon. I’m a bit of a sissy, so I turned it on its head with one part Bourbon to two parts lemon. I also added a touch more sugar. It’s sour with an edge of sweet and an unexpected slightly savoury note on the back palate. I thought it mighty, mighty fine, especially with some salted almonds on the side. I serve this decorated with maraschino cherries. Because I think Cole would have.

All you need is…

3 tbs Bourbon (I used Jim Beam)
6 tbs fresh lemon juice (or 3 tbs lemon and 3 tbs fresh lime)
2 tsp sugar
6 ice cubes
maraschino cherries, for serving

Strain the lemon juice through a tea strainer to remove any pips and pulp. Place the Bourbon, sugar and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the ice cubes, cover and shake vigorously for a minute until the whiskey sour is seriously chilled. (Take care not to overfill the shaker, the cocktail and ice need loads of space to move when you shake it. If you’re using a standard shaker, I’d say make for two people at a time max.) Pour whiskey sour into glasses and garnish with a cherry or two. Serve right away.

TOP TIP:If you don’t have a cocktail shaker and don’t particularly want to buy one, you can still make this whiskey sour. Simply place the ingredients in a large thick glass jar and screw the lid on tight. Take care when pouring so any undissolved ice remains behind.




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