Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour: A Sunny Drink for Winter Straight Up Cocktails and Spirits

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Nora Maynard)

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reader Christi

Meyer lemons that are available in markets right now to good use, look no further than the Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour. Three simple ingredients. So good.

But first let’s back up a bit and look at the regular old Whiskey Sour.

A satisfying combination of whiskey, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup, this old-timey cocktail is one of the shining stars of the sours family. With its citrus-y tartness and sweetness and underlying current of rich, boozy warmth, the Whiskey Sour is a delicious way to brighten up a dark winter night.

Is it possible to improve on such perfection?

Here’s where the Meyer lemons come in. I’ll venture to say, that by substituting freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice for regular, it can be done.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

It’s all about mellowness and balance. Believed by botanists to be a cross between a true lemon and a sweet orange, Meyer lemons are a little sweeter and less acidic than their common grocery store cousins, and have a little more depth of flavor. A softer kind of lemoniness with a faint tangerine tang.

This means you need less added sugar in the mix. Just let the natural sweetness of the fruit shine through.

Keeping this in mind, I tinkered with the classic Whiskey Sour formula. Instead of using the basic 3:2:1 whiskey/lemon juice/simple syrup ratio I’d ordinarily use, I dialed back the syrup, reducing the quantity by almost half. (Note: I tend to like my cocktails on the sour side of things – if your tastes run a little sweeter, you might want to use more syrup.)

The result? A beautifully balanced cocktail with a complex, fruity edge, and no harsh, acidic bite. Added bonus: with their thin, supple skins, Meyer lemons are a breeze to juice too.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour
makes one cocktail

1 1/2 ounces whiskey (rye or bourbon)
1 ounce freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 ounce simple syrup*, according to taste
Maraschino cherry for optional garnish

(*If you don’t have simple syrup on hand already, no worries – it’s super easy. Just equal parts sugar and water heated in a saucepan on the stove. You can make some in about 5 minutes with this recipe here.)

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

Have you made any cocktails using Meyer lemon juice?

Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC’s Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.

(Images: Nora Maynard)