St. Nick Sour

Sometimes a little variation on a theme is all that’s needed to breathe new life into an old drink.

Take the whiskey sour. A lovely thing on its own, of course, and a dependable ally in an unfamiliar bar (as long as that bar has figured out how to squeeze a lemon, that is). But the whiskey sour is like the friend you call when you need someone to help you move, not the friend you think of when you’ve got a night off and the bright lights beckon.

But with a little makeover, the whiskey sour becomes a party animal. As proof, I present the St. Nick Sour, a drink I cadged from the current issue of Imbibe magazine (go get your copy to see the fancy picture — you have subscribed, right?). Simply our old buddy the whiskey sour, with a little orange juice to brighten the day and sweetened with orgeat, the delicate almond syrup. A variation in the vein of a Ward 8, the St. Nick Sour nonetheless takes the old WS in a pleasant new direction.

A devastatingly great and original cocktail? No — c’mon, it’s a gussied up whiskey sour, what the hell do you expect? — but it is damn tasty, easy on the eyes and a good candidate for a crowd-pleaser, even for those who claim not to like bourbon. In other words, it’s a perfect drink for a holiday party.

The recipe was contributed by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, a man who knows a thing or two about crafting tasty concoctions. Berry says this is his choice of refreshment to leave out for St. Nick each Christmas Eve. Last Christmas, Berry’s books Grog Log and Intoxica! helped make my season bright, so this year I raise his lovely St. Nick Sour to celebrate the holidays.

St. Nick Sour

  • 2 oz. bourbon (I used Elijah Craig, with excellent results; you might also try it with rye)
  • 3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. orgeat

Shake with ice and pour into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with spiral-cut orange and lemon peels.

And if you’ve taken the time to match the above recipe with the one in Imbibe, you’ll see I tweaked the drink a bit — Berry called for a full ounce of orange juice, which I dosed down a notch in order to keep a tart edge to the sour; and, his version called for 1 1/2 oz. of bourbon, which I increased to 2 oz. because … well, because it’s Christmas.

This drink is presented to mark the beginning (somewhat) of the holiday season, but it’s also a submission for Anna’s Festive Food Fair over at Morsels and Musings. Anna has been a great contributor to recent Mixology Mondays, and I wanted to join in the party for this debut event. Head on over to Anna’s site to see what other folks are putting together.

8 Responses to St. Nick Sour

  1. i just saw how many spelling errors were in my last comment. anyone would think i’d gulped down a few st. nicks before typing!

  2. “Shake with ice and pour into an old-fashioned glass”

    Do you pour the ice from the shaker into the old-fashioned? Also, do you add ice as well?

    I usually shake my Mai Tai and pour the contents into an old-fashioned adn only add a spent lime shell for garnish.

    Thanks, Rich

  3. Exactly–shake and pour unstrained, just like the mai tai. I usually add ice to fill the glass (if needed), just because it looks nice.

  4. Hey, Y’all.

    Well, what a great refrence this site is – so thanks.

    Speaking of bourbon, here’s a great cocktail for you that is pretty much guaranteed to please. It was invented by Robb Sheldon, who is the head bartender at Liberty, a bar here on Capitol Hill here in Seattle that serves ol’ pre-prohibition cocktails. He’s come up with many great drinks, but here’s his signature bourbon cocktail:

    Dragon’s Toe
    2oz bourbon (Elijah Craig 12)
    Three cucumber slices
    1/2 oz of ginger water
    Ginger Ale
    Simple Syrup (to taste)

    So, you take these three cucumber slices and carefully muddle them in a glass so as to get the juice out of them, but don’t mash them. Next add the ginger water (Which is made by pureeing the ginger, soaking it in water for a few minutes and then getting the liquid out through a cheesecloth.) Next add ice and pour in the bourbon (Pappy 15 if you really want to get decadent), a dash of simple syrup if you’d like and then make some old fashioned ginger ale with a few shakes of Peychaud’s bitters, a splash of coke and another slightly larger splash of 7up.
    Shake and enjoy.

    This really is one hell of a drink. As long as you don’t make the ginger too sharp, the Dragon’s Toe will be a drink to remember.

    And, if you’d like to taste Rob’s version, stop on by Liberty on 15th next time that you’re in Seattle.


  5. Yes – it surely does not need any simple syrup – and I should have said that it’s customarily made with the Evan Williams, but I love me that Elijah Craig 12yr!

  6. […] Синклера является Trader Vic). Третий коктейль – St. Nicky Sour, рецепт которого я вычитал на сайте у Пола Кларка, […]

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