A Bourbon Sour or Three, Gone with the Wind

We’re all friends here, right?  So I can share that I’ve already drunk three of these suckers. And the only thing stopping me from having another is that I’m out of mixer.

Specifically, I’m out of what was introduced to me as “lemon sherbet,” also known as a proper oleo saccharum.  The sherbet is a key component to classic punch recipes according to liquor historian, David Wonderich.  (Not to be confused with the icy confectionary namesake.)

It’s a liquid.  Its essence is an intense citrusy syrup made from lemon peel and sugar.  And it infuses some serious aromatics into your cocktail(s). 

The sherbet’s raison d'être is the drink. And once you’ve had it, your raison d'être may very well become the drink.  Don’t fret about that.

The recipe came to me via Ted Gallagher of Craigie on Main.  “Cocktails should be drank cold, and fast,” he said with the conviction of Rhett Butler.  And I can’t disagree.  (Remember my three friends from above?)  I’m a lady  broad who loves her bourbon.  And old-timey items like whiskey sours and things that require a little elbow grease.   

So lemon peels and sugar were tossed into a bowl and mashed with the end of a rolling pin every quarter hour from seven to nine-thirty on a recent weekday night.  Later in the week, eggs were cracked, lemons were squeezed, and bourbon was poured.   Oh, and there was a cocktail shaker, a narrow glass, some ice cubes … and a pink umbrella.  For flare.  Not that this drink needs any of that.  But sometimes a gal needs a pink umbrella in her drink for no good reason. 

And so the bourbon sour was made.  Whether you add ice cubes into your cocktail is a matter of preference. Just know that it should be drank cold, and often. And by someone that knows how. 

Bourbon Sour


2 egg whites
3 ounces bourbon
3 ounces lemon sherbet (see recipe below)
1½ ounces fresh lemon juice

For the lemon sherbet
Adapted from Ted Gallagher via David Wondrich

2 large lemons
4 ounces (½ cup) sugar
Juice of two lemons (or in equal parts with the sugar)


For the lemon sherbet

Prepare the lemon sherbet at least 2-3 hours in advance.  Remove the peels from your lemons. (Be sure to remove all of the white pith; you can do this by running your knife along the inner peel of the lemon, like you were filleting a fish.)  Place the zests and sugar in a large non-reactive bowl.  Using a muddling stick or the end of a blunt object, like a rolling pin, press down on the peel and mash it into the sugar; continue this for a few minutes.  (You want to do this to release the essential oils from the zest.)

Continue this muddling process every 15-20 minutes for the next 2-3 hours, or until enough liquid is released that it forms a gel.  Once the liquid is the consistency of runny marmalade and smells of intense lemon, it's ready.

Juice your lemons (you’ll need about ½ cup of juice) and add the juice to your lemony sugar liquid.  Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves (this will likely take a few minutes); eventually, no sugar should remain.  You may wish to let the liquid sit a little longer if you are having a hard time dissolving all the sugar.  It will come with time.  Remove the peels prior to using or storing the sherbet.

For the bourbon sour

Place your egg whites into a cocktail shaker and shake them for a minute or two (be sure to do this dry, with no ice: it helps with the texture of the drink).  Once your whites are frothy, add the bourbon, lemon sherbet, lemon juice, and a generous amount of ice cubes.  Shake another minute or so and pour into glasses.

Add ice cubes to your cocktail, if that’s your thing.  I tried it both ways and, though the picture above is sans cube, I've found I prefer ice.  Run a little lemon peel around the rim of the glass, if it's readily available. Garnish at will.  Perhaps with a cherry; I like these.

Makes 2 cocktails (the lemon sherbet recipe will make enough for about two rounds or a tad more)

-The sherbet can keep in the fridge for about a week.  And it can be done with any number of citrus fruits.  You can also increase the yield by scaling up the amounts: just keep the proportions the same.  This is a ratios game.

-This isn’t an impulse cocktail.  It does require a few hours of advanced planning to make the sherbet.  (But I promise it’s worth it.)  Seems like a lot of instruction for a cocktail, I know, but it’s a special drink and a fairly easy one to recreate at home.  Also, for those at home, know that an average-sized shot glass is about an ounce and a half.

-This drink uses egg whites, like other sours, such as the pisco.  (In a flip, as in a brandy flip, you'll want to use the whole egg.) 

-Some may be concerned about the use of raw egg.  I like to think the alcohol solves this problem, but I can’t guarantee it.  All I can say is that I’ve been drinking them with abandon.  And I'm still here. (And so is my drinking buddy.)

-I saw Ted Gallagher at the Institute of Contemporary Art of Boston’s Talking Taste summer series.  It’s an annual favorite.  And Gallagher was terrific.  

P.s.  A Plum was featured on Saveur this week, so check me out!


  1. Hey, congratulations on the Saveur feature! And thank you so much for the kind mention. I appreciate it.

  2. Thanks Jess! I always look forward to reading Sweet Amandine, so it's my pleasure!

  3. A new and awesome cocktail recipe? Yes, please! And I loved the article on Saveur! Congrats!

  4. Was thrilled and delighted to see you on Saveur. I don't comment all-too-often, but I do look forward to your posts. Congrats on the honor.

  5. i don't know how i feel about this one--the egg whites make me nervous. oh, and bourbon makes me ill. but it's a lovely idea!
    CONGRATS on the feature!

  6. I love egg whites in cocktails, although I have never made one myself. I just might have to try this!

    And congrats on the Saveur feature. I just read the interview, how fantastic.

  7. I enjoyed reading your work. I'll come back for more

    Keep up the good work :) from TheStillery, a night bar in stuart Florida