As luck would have it World Whisky Day (May 19th) falls right in the middle of a very sultry month in Mumbai. It’s all the excuse we needed to go out in search for the coolest whisky cocktails in town to help us through this heat. Black Label-swigging traditionalists may scoff at the thought of whisky without soda, let alone as a refreshing summer drink. We didn’t let this stop us in our quest for the perfect antidote to our summer woes.
Enter, the Whisky Sour.
Counted amongst classic cocktail royalty, the Whisky Sour is believed to be over a century old. While the original creation resembled a punch, the cocktail as we know it today is a simple construction of whisky, sugar, citrus and egg white. American and Canadian whiskies are traditional, but Scotch and Irish work, too. The first reference to the cocktail appeared in the 1862 book The Bartender’s Guide: How to Mix Drinks by pioneering American mixologist Jerry Thomas. This version was without an egg white which was added soon after, when bartenders realised the egg softens the citrus, and smoothens the drink’s texture on the tongue.
All this time later, the cocktail continues to inspire modern interpretations. Someone once told me, “cocktail recipes are guidelines, not laws”. You will see that Mumbai’s bartenders agree! Try the Whisky Sours at our picks for Mumbai bars to go to on World Whisky Day and you will agree too.
Cheers! And here’s to your health…
Islay Smoked Sour at House of Nomad: Caol Ila & Johnnie Walker Black Label
Not very long ago, Australian bartender Sam Ross was playing around with a few whiskies (as you do), and created an accidental success story. He designed a version of the Whisky Sour which he named Penicillin. House of Nomad bartender Angelo’s Islay Smoked Sour is no accident though. A luxurious drink with subtle ginger notes and a sumptuous, meringue-like pillow of smoked foam, it has Johnnie Walker Black Label in the drink and Caol Ila in the foam. The first sip of this complex and smoky cocktail brings a gentle hit of salt, and the rest as they say, is history…
Classic Whisky Sour at KODE: Jim Beam
Take refuge from Mumbai’s soaring temperatures in the fresh flavours of KODE’s fruity riff on a classic Whisky Sour. Their contribution to the growing list of twists to the original is the addition of peach syrup. And boy does it work! Perfumed and delicate, KODE’s cocktail is a perfect balance of tart and sweet, albeit with the safe choice of Jim Beam. They also brand their cocktail with a spray of bitters, a decidedly non-traditional addition to the classic. The burst of peachy notes with each sip will get you through these last few weeks of summer. Trust us.
Tosaka at Masque: Dewar’s 12 years
The first sighting of cockscomb flowers in every shade of pink, purple and red announce the arrival of summer in Kashmir. Mumbai’s resident Kashmiri, Chef Prateek Sadhu, brought back some of these wooly flowers for his bartenders to play with. The result is a blush pink Whisky Sour, with a dash of pineapple, ginger and honey for company. Bartender Ankush’s choice of the classic 12 year-old blend from Dewar’s allows the flavours of ginger and honey to truly shine. Refreshing and smooth, Masque’s Tosaka is an inspirational take on the classic whisky cocktail. Watch out for the cockscomb's tiny prickles as you down this drink, which we are certain you will.
Scotch Sour at The Table: Johnnie Walker Black Label & Double Black
The next stop on our cocktail trail is SoBo's favourite melting pot of beautiful people eating beautiful food. Now thanks to bartender Shreyansh playing favourites with Johnnie Walker whiskies, The Table is serving up a beautiful drink too. With a double whammy of whiskies (Double Black and Black Label) for smoke and orange bitters for summer, the Scotch Sour is wrapped up elegantly as a well balanced nod to the classic drink.
Classic Whisky Sour at Mockingbird Café & Bar: Jim Beam
In a city where bars and restaurants have a tendency to take themselves too seriously, Mockingbird Cafe & Bar is a breath of fresh air. It is a casual, neighbourhood watering hole that didn't see the need to mess with a classic. The drink arrived with absolutely no fanfare, nor interpretations, encouraging us to just sit back, relax, and enjoy a classic cocktail. And we did!
#IFNPicks for Mumbai bars to go to on World Whisky Day:
House of Nomad, Taj Land’s End: Islay Smoked Sour for Rs. 950++
KODE: Classic Whisky Sour for Rs. 575++
Masque: Tosaka for Rs. 850++
The Table: Scotch Sour for Rs. 975
Mockingbird Café & Bar: Classic Whisky Sour for Rs. 480