When I was in my early 20s, the whiskey sour was my favorite thing to drink. In the context of the college bar scene in Western Massachusetts, sours were candy-like cocktails of equal parts whiskey and sour mix—a cloying formula that I eventually tired of. By the time I stopped in at the restaurant Melisse, the two-Michelin-starred restaurant of chef Josiah Citrin, in Santa Monica, California, last weekend, I hadn’t had one for nearly a decade. Melisse has a new cocktail program that’s a study in American classics, all made with painstakingly sourced ingredients and craft spirits, so when I spotted my old college standby on the menu, I couldn’t resist ordering it—and I’m glad I didn’t try to. This whiskey sour was nothing like the version I remembered: Delicate and floral, a perfect balance of tart and sweet, with subtle vanilla notes and a sumptuous, meringue-like pillow of foam on top.
When I asked Pablo Moix, who helped to develop the cocktail menu, for the recipe, he invited me behind the bar to make one. It was dead simple to put together: Just fresh lemon juice, a splash of simple syrup, Buffalo Trace bourbon, and an egg white, all briskly shaken with ice until very, very cold. Now that I can make it at home, I’ll definitely be having another!