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Expert Tips To Craft The Perfect Whiskey Sour

The perfect balance of sugar, citrus juice, and booze makes the whiskey sour a classic cocktail that will never go out of style. The bartenders' ratio for balanced whiskey sours has 2 ounces of the spirit, and ¾ ounce each of lemon juice and rich simple syrup creating a delicately creamy and sweet-tart flavor profile that makes you want to go back for sip after frothy sip.

But how does this cocktail get that signature foam? "A whiskey sour is classically made with raw egg white for a light, frothy texture," Katie Stryjewski, the woman behind garnish_girl on Instagram and author of "Cocktails, Mocktails and Garnishes from the Garden," explained to Food Republic. Though not every bartender uses an egg white in their recipe these days, if you want to recreate that timeless taste and texture, you should definitely give fun egg white cocktails a try.

"It can be a little challenging to get that lovely layer of foam when you're first starting out," noted Stryjewski, but don't worry. She also shared some tips with Food Republic to help you shake up a perfect whiskey sour.

First of all, she stated, "Always use fresh eggs, and remember that there are risks to consuming them raw," she says. To reduce the chances of coming into contact with harmful bacteria like salmonella, opt for pasteurized eggs. Also, before using them, inspect the egg shells for any cracks or damage that could have allowed bacteria to contaminate the egg white.

Whisk your eggs first

Instead of just shaking together whiskey, freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup, and a white straight from the egg — give it a little head start. "Lightly whisk your egg white before adding it to the shaker to help break it up," suggested Katie Stryjewski.

Just separate them by passing the cracked egg back and forth between the shells, or use a handy kitchen tool that easily separates egg yolks and whites. Save the egg yolks for your next silky pasta or omelet, and gently beat the whites with a fork or small whisk in a separate bowl before adding them to your cocktail shaker along with the rest of the whiskey sour ingredients. Doing so gives your white a bit of pre-aeration that helps create luscious froth.

Try out a reverse dry shake

Many whiskey sour recipes call for first shaking together all the ingredients without any ice at all. This is called a dry shake. After that, ice is added, and then it is shaken again before being strained into a glass.

This method works well for some, but if you are really after that picture-perfect foam, "[c]onsider doing a reverse dry shake," offered Katie Stryjewski. Along with ice, shake to combine the egg white, whiskey, simple syrup, and lemon juice. "Then strain the ice out and shake it again to froth up the egg white without over-diluting the drink," she explained.

During this final dry shake, take advantage of the tools you have lying around to encourage that foam to develop. "For an additional boost, you can add a blender ball or the spring from your Hawthorne strainer to the dry shake to help whip the egg whites," Stryjewski said.

Use a milk frother

As fun as it is to play bartender at home and finally break into that cocktail-making set you got as a housewarming gift, sometimes whipping up a beverage successfully proves harder than it looks. However, the benefit of bartending from the comfort of your own abode is that no one will judge you for opting for something unconventional to help you out.

"If you're really having trouble getting that foam, you can use a handheld milk frother instead of the dry shake," Katie Stryjewski advised. That's right! That tool is good for more than just cappuccinos and matcha lattes. Just remember to shake up all the ingredients with ice first so that the drink is properly cold and diluted. Strain into a glass, and then hit it with that milk frother to get some foamy volume.

Use a fine mesh strainer

So you know you have to strain your cocktail into the glass to get out bits of ice and encourage a uniform texture, but have you ever stopped to consider exactly which kind of strainer you should be using? For Katie Stryjewski, a fine mesh strainer is the way to go "for a smooth, thick foam."

This is actually a two-part process called double straining. Hold the fine mesh strainer directly over your glass. Then, you will pour the shaken cocktail out of the shaker using either a Hawthorne strainer — which is round, flat, has springs, and utilizes prongs to hook onto the edge of the shaker — or a julep strainer (simple and spoon-shaped). The liquid then passes through the fine mesh strainer right into the glass. In the process, large egg white bubbles are broken down into smaller bubbles, which creates a softer, more consistently textured, foam.

Try out an egg-free alternative

If egg whites just are not working for you, or you have your reasons for not wanting to consume them raw, you do have other options. Katie Stryjewski had two fantastic alternatives: Fee Foam or aquafaba — the liquid gold otherwise known as chickpea water, which can be used as an egg white substitute in meringues, mayonnaise, macarons, and, yes, cocktails. 

With aquafaba, your best bet is to use the leftover liquid from canned chickpeas. Though cooking the legumes dry also yields aquafaba, it is sometimes not thick enough to be super useful. The stuff in the can is more consistent. You can treat it just as you would egg whites in a whiskey sour, using about a tablespoon or so per drink.

Fee Foam is made by the Fee Brother's brand, which you may recognize from its wide variety of cocktail bitters. Fee Foam is made up of water, propylene glycol, polysorbate 80 (Kosher), potassium sorbate, benzoate of soda, citric acid, and lemon extract. To use the plant-based mix, add just a couple of dashes to the shaker along with the other ingredients. Whether you opt for an egg white or vegan version, all these tips will have you cranking out whiskey sours like a pro in no time.