I start craving gingerbread cocktails in November, and this year, this Gingerbread Whiskey Sour was at the top of my must-make list. After creating a luscious gingerbread syrup, I wanted nothing more than to try it out in every iteration of a whiskey cocktail, and my first impulse was to see how it fared in a whiskey sour. Spoiler alert – it was delicious.
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What’s a Whiskey Sour?
The whiskey sour comes to us from a long standing naval tradition of adding citrus to a rum ration with a little bit of sugar to make sure sailors in the 16th century on could avoid scurvy. The first sours were likely just a way to make sure sailors made it through long transatlantic voyages safe from the physical and mental effects of scurvy.
While in the Caribbean and in England rum would have been the spirit of choice on long voyages, whiskey was more common in the US. Sailors coming to port in the US during the 1700s and 1800s would have been more likely to find the spirit of choice in a sour was whiskey rather than rum.
For more on the history of the whiskey sour head to this post on how to make a great classic whiskey sour.
Flavors in this Gingerbread Whiskey Sour
I’m a huge fan of whiskey in the winter months, and combining the sweet and spicy flavor of gingerbread with whiskey is a perfect combination. Whisky, bourbon and rye especially, has notes of vanilla, caramel and baking spices in it. Those flavors are found in any great gingerbread cookie or bread.
For the gingerbread syrup itself, I used a base of brown sugar simple syrup that I infused with cinnamon, cardamom, clove, allspice and molasses. To pair with the whiskey, I used lemon juice as the acid for the cocktail.
I wanted a dressier cocktail, so I added an egg white, but you can use omit it (or substitute aquafaba if you’re a vegan).
But one that I would add if you have it, is just a bar spoon of allspice dram. It’s a liqueur with flavors of allspice, clove and baking spices. It’s used predominantly in tropical drinks, but I love adding the flavor to holiday bourbon cocktails that need a little kick of spice.
How to make the Gingerbread Syrup for this Christmas Cocktail
This gingerbread syrup can have the flavors adjusted for your personal preference. The basic recipe is available here, but I took brown sugar simple syrup, added some whole spices for infusion, a bit of ground ginger and some molasses to build the flavor combination I enjoy.
Remember to go light with the molasses as you add it to the syrup. Add it by 1/2 tablespoons at a time until you get the to the flavor you love. For this particular simple syrup I added the whole spices to the brown sugar simple syrup for 15 minutes at a low simmer, then let it infuse as it cooled to room temperature.
Like any infused simple syrup, make sure to store it in a glass container in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, but don’t worry, it won’t last that long.
How to Choose a Whiskey for this Gingerbread Christmas Cocktail
I went with a bourbon for this whiskey sour the first time I made it – specifically Old Forester. I wanted a a great bourbon with some fun caramel and vanilla flavors to match the cookie taste I was aiming for. But if you prefer your gingerbread cookies a little spicier, opt for a 90-100 proof rye whiskey.
And if you prefer a much softer whiskey taste, use a lovely Irish whiskey like Slane to let the grain-forward taste of the the whiskey provide a lovely base for the spicy flavors in the gingerbread syrup.
How to Make this Gingerbread Sour
Like any sour, we’re going to shake!
For this sour, we’ll add the ingredients to a shaking tin, fill with ice and shake for 10-12 seconds. If you’re using egg white/aquafaba/foaming agent, be sure to shake for 10-12 seconds, then strain into a mixing glass and use an electric latte whisk on it for 20 seconds to create a lovely head of foam. Head to my article on How to Make a Boston Sour for more information on how to make a great head of foam on a whiskey cocktail.
If you decide to omit the egg white or foaming agent, you’ll just need the initial 10-12 second shake.
Other Cocktails You Might Enjoy
- Gingerbread Martini
- Gingerbread Manhattan
- Christmas Manhattan
- Christmas Syrup
- Pumpkin Spice Old Fashioned
- Christmas Old Fashioned
Recommended Bar Tools
You don’t need every slick, beautiful bar tool out there, but there are several I’ll recommend. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, that does not affect the cost of the items below.) My favorite pieces usually come from the Cocktail Kingdom section of Amazon:
You may already have these bar essentials, but just in case:
Gingerbread Whiskey Sour
- 2 oz bourbon
- 3/4 oz gingerbread syrup
- 3/4 oz lemon juice
- 1 bar spoon allspice dram
- 2 dashes @hellabitters ginger bitters
- 1 egg white