The Liquor Cabinet

Christmas in July just got merrier with this whisky sour

This festive red-and-white riff on the traditional whisky sour is perfect for winter celebrations, especially if Santa’s on the guest list.

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… a delicious whisky sour (with cranberry and ginger)”. Midyear Yule festivities call for a special welcome drink and this one takes classic whisky sour ingredients and shakes them up to create a festive cocktail that looks impressive but is actually very simple to make. There’s a hint of warming ginger, plus cranberry juice for tang, so when everyone arrives for your Christmas in July party, offer this up with a platter of melted brie and sliced baguette to get everyone into the spirit.

How to make a Cranberry Ginger Whisky Sour

Ingredients (Serves 4)

 180mL Black Hound Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
 1 tsp finely grated ginger
 180mL lemon juice
 1½ tbs caster sugar
 1 egg white (optional)
 Ice cubes, to serve
 310mL cranberry juice
 8 pieces crystallised ginger

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the whisky, grated ginger, lemon juice, sugar and egg white, if using. Shake for 2 mins or until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is chilled and foamy.
  2. Thread 2 pieces of crystalised ginger onto a toothpick. Repeat with remaining ginger to make 4 garnishes. Fill four highball serving glasses with ice. Divide the whisky mixture among the glasses. Top with cranberry juice. Garnish with ginger skewers to serve.

The history of the whisky sour cocktail

It seems no one really agrees on when the first whisky sour was handed across a bar, but many seem to think it turned up in print initially in Jerry Thomas’s 1862 Bartenders Guide, making it pure vintage. In reality, though, a version of it would have been made for many years before that. Sailors mixed fresh citrus with booze (whiskyginrum) to prevent scurvy on long journeys for as long back as ships sailed the ocean blue. Now, in its purest form, whisky, lemon juice and sugar syrup are mixed in a 4:2:1 formula. Shaking them together with egg white gives the cocktail a foamy, luxurious finish (if you’re avoiding raw egg, it’s fine to leave it out). This cranberry ginger version is more like a punch – think of it as the super-sized version of a sour.


Choosing the right whisky sour ingredients

If you’ve got any sort of whisky behind your home bar, you can create a delicious sour. Traditionally, a whisk(e)y sour would be blended with bourbon, the sweet, caramel notes creating the perfect complement to the tart lemon. In this version, the richness of the ginger matches well with the fruity and spicy notes of Black Hound Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, which blends fine single malts from the Scottish Highlands. This premium blended malt won Gold in the 2023 Scotch Whisky Masters Awards.

Pucker up! Here are more sour cocktail contenders

Got a taste for tart? There’s an almost limitless number of variations on a sour. Add a little red wine and you’ve got a New York sour. When summer rolls around, take every gal’s favourite spritz and give it a twist, with the Aperol sour. Replacing the bourbon with amaretto creates an Amaretto sour. At this time of year, though, if you’re feeling a little chilly, keep the bourbon in rotation and try a Hot Buttered Whisky.

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