5 Ingredient Recipes, Drinks

Orange Whiskey Sour Recipe

My in-laws are in town for the long weekend, and I wanted to make my mother-in-law a margarita. The two of us bond over margaritas, and particularly love to make these strawberry margaritas in the summertime. As I proceeded to pull out the different ingredients needed, I realized a devastating fate. We didn’t have limes, which are kind of essential in a margarita. So naturally, I whipped up an orange whiskey sour recipe instead.

two glasses of orange cranberry bourbon cocktails
adding orange slices to orange cranberry bourbon cocktails

Okay, okay. It wasn’t “natural” to make that next move. But I had a leftover orange from my Imperfect produce box, and a plethora of bourbon (we drink a lot of it in our home), so I decided to mix it up a bit. Thus, the orange whiskey sour was born.

What makes this cocktail a whiskey sour?

When I first threw together this cocktail, I just called it an “orange cranberry bourbon cocktail,” which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. After a quick search online, I learned that my new cocktail creation could actually be called a whiskey sour thanks to the orange juice.

Typically sour cocktails have a 1:2:4 ratio. It’s one part sweetness, two parts sour, and four parts alcohol. Sours usually include a lemon or lime juice to give it that sour taste, but since I saw a few people also called orange juice-based cocktails a “sour” as well, I decided to roll with it. For more on sours, I liked this blog post by the Northwest Edible Life.

However, since I was looking for something a bit sweeter for our cocktail, I decided to play around with the ratios. I did the same ratio for the alcohol and the juice, but kept the simple syrup at a smaller amount. There’s already a natural sweetness in the pure cranberry juice used in this cocktail, so I didn’t feel the need to overpower it with so much simple syrup.

getting prepared to make an orange whiskey sour recipe

What kind of fruit juice should be used?

I think this is the most important question for this recipe, because I do think the juice is going to make a difference. I think fresh juice from an orange is going to be the best in terms of flavor. Plus, it’s lighter than most store-bought orange juices, which will make the cocktail taste refreshing.

I also decided to use the cranberry juice as a way to sweeten this whiskey sour recipe. Yet as you can see, this cocktail is not a deep red color—like most cranberry cocktails you see out there. Why? Because I used a pure cranberry juice instead—not a concentrate or a cocktail mix. This means no artificial dyes or additives in your drink, and it gives the cocktail this deep orange color that honestly looks like sunshine on a cold, winter day.

I liked using Santa Cruz Cranberry Nectar, which is 100% juice. If you use another kind of cranberry juice, your cocktail may be a darker orange or even red. But if you like this bright orange color, I recommend grabbing this kind. To buy, here’s a link for Instacart. But if you don’t shop on there, here’s a link on Amazon.

setting up to make an orange whiskey sours

How about simple syrup?

Now I know there are cocktail connoisseurs out there (*cough* my husband *cough*) who actually make their own simple syrup. However, for those of us who don’t have the time or patience to do so, it’s kind of nice to have a simple syrup that you can simply buy and rely on to taste good.

In this whiskey sour recipe, I used a zero-sugar sweetener that was naturally sweetened with monk fruit. I’ve used Swoon a few times now in different cocktails, and I’m a big fan of it.

However, I do find some zero-sugar sweeteners to actually taste sweeter than their sugary counterparts. Which is why I use less sweetener in this whiskey sour recipe. So if you want your cocktail to be sweeter, I recommend adding a little bit more in the drink. But between the two different kinds of juices in this whiskey sour recipe already, I have a feeling the sweetness will be just right.

setting up orange whiskey sours

Orange Whiskey Sour

This cocktail is full of flavors perfect for the cold, wintery months.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Drinks
Keyword: bourbon cocktail, cocktail, whiskey sour
Servings: 1 serving


  • Cocktail shaker


  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. orange juice the juice from 1/4 of an orange
  • 1 oz. pure cranberry juice
  • 1/4 oz. simple syrup
  • Ice cubes


  • Add a few ice cubes to a cocktail shaker or a mason jar.
  • Pour in the ingredients for the cocktail. If you want to make more than one, simply double or triple the amounts, depending on how many cocktails you want to make.
  • Shake for about 15 seconds.
  • Strain the cocktail into a class with an ice cube. Add an orange slice and serve.


I find that using the most natural stuff tastes the best in this cocktail. I like to squeeze 1/4 of an orange (or for two drinks, 1/2 and orange) and use a pure cranberry juice that doesn’t have any red dyes. 

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orange whiskey sour recipe pin for pinterest

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