To Add Egg Whites Or Not To Add Egg Whites.
Historically speaking, if a cocktail was a simple sour, it did not have egg whites. Yes, there were cocktails like the clover club or pink lady that had egg whites, or you can go back even further to the Fizz-style cocktails from the 1880s that had egg whites. But not until the early 1950s am I able to find anyone using egg whites in a cocktail labeled a Sour. Sour cocktails before the 1950s that used egg whites in this way all seemed to have fun names and were presented as cocktails for the ladies. In the 1930s or 40s, if a man ordered a whiskey sour and were handed one with egg whites, he would probably be offended or think the bartender mixed his drink up with some women’s at the bar. I looked through maybe 100+ books ranging from the 1880s to the late 1960s, which was pretty consistently what I found.
The earliest use of egg whites in a standard sour I could find was from King Cocktail by Eddie Clark. In 1947 Eddie Clark was the successor head bartender to Harry Craddock at the Savoy. The 1955 official British Bartenders union cocktail book, The UKBG, also mentions using egg whites in sours, but both books say they are optional and not traditional. Assumedly egg whites were added upon request and not the usual way a whiskey sour was made. Keep in mind Harry Craddock, 1920 – the 40s, did not make his sours with egg whites. All those cocktails had different fun names. Eddie Clark even grouped those fun cocktails in his book’s “For ladies only” section.
A Short History Of Sours.
While a standard American style sour is likely as old as the country itself, it traces its origins to the Age of Exploration. In the mid-1500s, the Spanish Navy began preserving concentrated lime juice in high-proof spirits that could last on long voyages as medication to fight and prevent scurvy. These medications were known for being super sour and not tasting good. In the early 1800s, there were attempts at improving these into actually good drinks, and one of these is the standard Sour cocktail of 2 oz base spirit, 1 oz citrus, and 1/2 oz simple syrup. This traditional recipe still has its roots in the overly sour medication, but by reducing the citrus by 1/3, you end up with a tastier product. Please enjoy this early rum sour pulled from the 1862 edition of the Bar-Tenders guide by Jerry Thomas.