Happy National Whiskey Sour Day!
That may sound redundant. How could such a day help but be happy? It's quite unlike National Secondhand Wardrobe Day, with which it shares the date August 25th. A day saddled with that moniker could go horribly. But Whiskey Sour Day? As we say about our lucky princes, it was born on third base, waiting to steal home.
Whoever scheduled this scored well in my book. So often the national booze days are planned out of season. But having a Whiskey Sour day just as summer is closing is perfect—especially since August is a month bereft of official national holidays, as opposed to simple observances. (Hint to presidential candidates sharpening their campaign promises.) Many great whiskey cocktails crowd the bar, but the Whiskey Sour is the right one for hot weather and the best plan for mixing citrus with brown spirits. So toasting the end of August with it makes perfect sense.
My allegiance to the drink is nothing new, and I've written on this love affair before as well as giving my take on how to make it perfectly. What I didn't expect was to gain a fresh perspective as I prepared for the festivities. Then I was proffered a new recipe just in time to celebrate.
Of course, many variants of the Whiskey Sour exist, but most depend on switching out whiskey for some other spirit. There are Gin Sours, Amaretto Sours, Brandy Sours...probably the best is the Pisco Sour. But you don't see much on taking the basic Whiskey Sour to the concierge level with added ingredients.
Then, the makers of Alberta Rye Dark Batch Whisky suggested a complex sour that brings a lot to the table (well, bar). Normally, I make Sours with Bourbon, not Canadian whisky, but this north-of-the-border dram, with its high rye content (91 percent), plus a measure of Bourbon, has a bite you don't normally associate with Canadian, one that stands up to the lemon tang.
Anyway, the cocktail, called Dark Batch Sour, is interesting because it contains so many ingredients. Along with the whisky (that's the Canadian spelling) and lemon juice, come pear and allspice liqueurs. The former (I used Belle de Brillet brand) doesn't take much imagining. It's Cognac flavored with pear. Allspice liqueur, on the other hand, is a bit more esoteric. It's spicy, with a hint of clove and maybe cinnamon. I used The Bitter Truth Pimento Dram brand, which despite its name, qualifies as an allspice liqueur. The source of allspice seasoning is a berry classified as pimenta dioica, and that's where the liqueur gets its alternate name. (So banish all thoughts of olives, it tastes nothing like them.)
What the allspice brings is piquancy, a pleasant sharpness that matches the sour. The pear and whisky balance out what otherwise might become a bit austere. The official recipe doesn't mention egg white, which I would normally include in a Whiskey Sour, but I cleaved to their formula in making it the first time—and had happy results. Fortunately, a whole day is devoted to Whiskey Sour, so I'm sure I'll get a chance to try it my way.
Dark Batch Sour
2 parts Alberta Rye Dark Batch Whisky
3/4 part fresh lemon juice
1/2 part pear liqueur
1/2 part simple syrup
1/4 part allspice liqueur
Method: Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake, serve up neat or on the rocks and garnish with a lemon peel.