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The sweet and sour father of American mixology

We have our opinions on the true origin of this classic cocktail, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one!

The Whiskey Sour might be about as American as apple pie. It is so intertwined with America’s lengthy drinking history that there is simply no agreed-upon origin of this saloon staple. While the cocktail might be a simple one to create, the drink’s importance to American culture can’t be understated, which is why it was recognized very early on by one Jerry Thomas, who is widely considered the Father of American Mixology.

Thomas was a bartender from New York City who travelled all over the United States to tend bar at some of the country’s finest establishments. From San Francisco to St. Louis, New Orleans to New York, Thomas peddled his craft to patrons all across the country cross-pollinating flavors and traditions from different regions into the craft of mixology as we know it today.

His most lasting legacy came with the 1862 publishing of A Bar-Tender’s Guide (also known as How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion), the first book published in the United States that was solely dedicated to cocktails. In it, Thomas put to paper the oral history of his craft and shared with the world what he had learned through his travels. Among other now-famous recipes including many long-standing cocktail staples, Thomas included the first ever publication of the Whiskey Sour. And the rest, as they say, is history.