The sour is as classic as it gets when it comes to cocktails. The simple combination of a base spirit with citrus, sugar and egg white has been around since people first started drinking cocktails in the 19th century. This week I’m making three – first the grandfather of them all, the Whisky sour, then two lesser known alternatives, the pisco and melon sours.

Photo: James Fox

The method for each of these drink is the same. Combine equal measures or lemon or lime juice and sugar syrup (sugar dissolved in water). Add an egg white and a double measure of the spirit in question. First, dry shake (without ice) to allow the egg white to combine with the other liquid, then shake vigorously with ice to get a nice frothy consistency. Strain into a rocks glass over plenty of fresh ice.

Bourbon and rye whiskey is the classic spirit to use for a sour but I stuck to my roots with Scottish malt whisky. Using a single malt in a cocktail is frankly a bit of a waste and a reasonable blended malt like Famous Grouse would be preferable, but Highland Park was all I had to hand. Serve on the rocks and garnish with a lemon or orange slice and a maraschino cherry. This is a great way to enjoy whisky without the harshness of drinking it straight up while still maintaining the subtle flavours.

Next I went for a pisco sour. Pisco, a clear spirit distilled from grapes, is the national drink of both Chile and Peru and fierce debates rage over whose is the best. I went for the Peruvian Pisco Portón as it was more readily available. The method for preparation is the same as above though I went for lime juice rather than lemon as in the whisky sour. This drink is exceptionally refreshing and is great on a hot summer day.

Lastly the melon sour, which is made using Japanese Midori liqueur. This is a whole lot sweeter and less alcoholic than the other two and is a great drink for anyone who loves watermelon flavour sweets. Lemon juice is better for negating some of that sweetness but lime too works well.

Photo: James Fox

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