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Ruby Red Sour

What do you do with the leftovers when the apocalypse ends? If you're cocktail mixstress Antonia Helios, you concoct a new take on a whisky sour.

If you were like most sensible people, you probably stocked for the long Covid winter. But if you were anything like me, you stocked up for the zombie apocalypse. Now that Covid spring appears to be imminent, here's a partial list of the things I suddenly have to find a use for: dried sweet potatoes, dried carrots, powdered milk products, two different varieties of dried mushrooms, cheddar cheese powder(!), and egg white powder. Of these, the egg white powder is the most vexing because I can't remember why I bought it. (The cheddar cheese powder was supposed to be for popcorn; I'll probably make a gift of it to a neighbor who has grandchildren.)

Fortunately (or not), I have a weird habit of looking around my kitchen and wondering, "Can Item X be used in a cocktail?" (Let this henceforth be known as the first of the Three Cocktail Questions.) For egg white powder, the answer seemed obvious: Add it to a whiskey sour!


Now, while I'd long been aware that egg whites were a desirable addition to whiskey sours, I'd never actually made one. Some quick research revealed that there are nearly as many takes on the whiskey sour as there are people. For one thing, the varieties of whiskey (or whisky) seem nearly endless: rye, bourbon, Canadian, Irish, Tennessee, Japanese, small batch, single barrel, double barrel (okay, that last one isn't real). For another, the sweet and sour elements are also up for grabs. And even when people can coalesce around a sour (usually lemon), the recommended volume of each element can vary widely.

Since this is a scurvy-free household, there’s always lemon juice on hand. It was time to move on to the second of the Three Cocktail Questions: “How can I take a shortcut?” I had egg white powder and I have gadgets. Surely, I thought, it must be possible to incorporate one of these gadgets in a way that answers not only Question Two but Question Three (see below) as well. Carefully adding two teaspoons of powder and one ounce of water to a stainless steel frothing pitcher, I agitated the mixture with one of those battery-operated, handheld whisk thingies. The aim was to speed up the process of turning egg white powder into liquid, but the result was a sort of...foam that would not lose its structure no matter how long I waited or how much extra liquid I added.

So back to the drawing board.


A personal blender yielded a turbid solution that could only be described as the best of both worlds. There was just enough liquid to make it suitable for mixing, but that was only after the clumps of, er, protein had been strained out. Finally, I settled upon the best method of all: patience. I combined the amounts described above into a two-ounce mason jar, shook it a little, waited several hours, then shook it again. Eureka (no exclamation point because the whole thing was so damn exasperating.)

Having answered Question Two (but not in the way I wanted), I turned my attention to Question Three: "How can I put my own spin on this?" It occurred to me that limoncello might take care of both the sour and the sweet elements, so I added some to the mix. Do not do this. The whiskey and the limoncello cancel each other out, and you will still have to add a sour as well as a sweet. Also: who drinks limoncello anyway? It's really just an excuse to sell you a pretty bottle.

Further experimentation followed, both with egg whites and without. I drank more whiskey sours in the past month than an ad salesman on an expense account. (My brain can call it research, but tell that to my waistline.) To my relief, I eventually discovered that a respectable libation could be conjured up by casually combining a serendipitous sour with a basic bourbon. And ice, plenty of ice. Dilution is the key to this drink; skip the ice, and you'll never trust me again.

Ruby Red Sour

· 3 oz freshly-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice

· 2 oz bourbon

· Ice, ice, baby

Shake (vigorously) with ice, then serve over ice. That's it; two simple ingredients and fewer carbs than a classic whiskey sour. You're welcome!

Now what to do with those egg whites...

Antonia Helios hails from sturdy peasant stock and has the flat feet to prove it. She is profoundly ignorant on many subjects but an enthusiastic autodidact when it comes to alcohol.

Empty Shelves photo by Kate Trifo from Pexels

Bar photo by Chris F from Pexels

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