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.
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.
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.
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.
Orange Whiskey Sour
- 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.