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Steal This National Whiskey Sour Day Recipe From ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’


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Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood takes place over three days in February and August of 1969. On the first of these days, Rick Dalton — TV cowboy, silver screen war hero, and aging actor played by Leonardo DiCaprio — sucks down a lot of whiskey sours. Spoilers warning, we guess, but ol’ Rick drinks no fewer than eight whiskey sours over the course of that single day.

The next morning isn’t ideal for Rick, as you might imagine. His hangover (and sugar crash) causes him to flub simple lines and have a full-on meltdown in his trailer. Which is bad news for an actor trying to scratch his way back to relevance but leads to the most enjoyable sequence in the movie for us, the audience. Looked at through a certain lens, whiskey sours power OUaTiH‘s second third.

The movie’s whiskey sour journey begins at the iconic Los Angeles steak and cocktail spot Musso & Frank Grill. As Rick’s stuntman, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), jacks up his own Bloody Mary with Tabasco and black pepper, Rick sips at a decidedly eggless whiskey sour in a utility rocks glass. The first sip brings about a grimace at best. After Rick’s fateful meeting with Al Pacino’s agent-extraordinaire, Marvin Schwarz, Rick retires to his Cielo Drive home to rehearse lines and drinks about seven more whiskey sours out of a large German stein while he floats in the pool.

We thought we’d take a deep dive into the whiskey sour to celebrate the film’s version of the drink. We’re going to breakdown how to make the eggless version Rick drinks at Musso & Frank Grill. Then we’ll dive into the egg white version Rick is seen making for his stein back home.

Lastly, we’ll throw in a high-end chef’d up version at the end for comparison’s sake. Dig? Cool.

PART I: Gather Your Ingredients

Zach Johnston

A whiskey sour is a combination of whiskey, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, and ice. That’s it. Simple. Yet … this drink gets f*cked up so often. It’s just one of those drinks that’s hard to order with confidence, not knowing who’s shaking behind the bar. Are the eggs going to be fresh? Are they using real lemon juice? Has it been strained? What whiskey are they pouring? Are they going to bother with a dry-shake first?

See? We haven’t even started yet and we’re already deep in the weeds on this drink.

Before we get to technique, let’s go over what you’ll need here. I’m using a good, standard bourbon — Wild Turkey 81 proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon. I like the hints of baking spices, light burnt sugar notes, oaky vanilla, and hints of tartness. It’s a standard bourbon that gets the job done and fits in with the sugar and sour citrus profile we’re going to be working with.

Next, I use a high-quality raw sugar simple syrup. This is hard to re-negotiate with a whiskey sour. You can use gomme if you’re not down with the sugar cane. Switching out the sugar component to, say, honey will drastically change (and ruin) the flavor here. Look, processed sugar isn’t the best thing, but you’re also not drinking eight of these in a row like Rick … unless you are. Then expect Rick’s hangover.

Next, you’re going to need to make some lemon juice. Don’t buy lemon juice. Buy six or seven lemons, juice them, and then strain them through a sieve into a little bottle and set aside. Six large lemons should yield about eight ounces of juice.

Zach Johnston


Lastly, gather your tools. You’ll need a cocktail shaker. I’m using a Boston Shaker. That’s a metal base with a glass pint glass topper. This gives you a lot more room to emulsify the drink which is crucial for any egg white cocktail.

I also have a cocktail strainer, Maraschino and Amarena cherries, and two different rocks glasses in the freezer, chilling. I’m using an eight-ounce rocks glass for the first two versions and a five-ounce for the last version.

That’s it. We’re ready to get shaking.

Zach Johnston

PART II: Musso & Frank Grill 1969 Whiskey Sour

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Okay, I’ve seen this movie twice in the theatre and, yes, I love it. That Musso & Frank Grill whiskey sour though, I’m not so sure. First of all, it’s eggless. That’s just not my jam. But like QT, I’m a slave to accuracy, so let’s get into it.

Recipe:

  • 2 oz. Wild Turkey
  • 1.5 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 0.75 oz. Simple Syrup
  • One Maraschino Cherry
  • Ice

Method:

  • Build in a shaker. Add the bourbon followed by the lemon and simple. This is going to be a strong drink as the lack of egg white — which is usually two ounces of volume — is made up with extra bourbon and lemon.
  • Add in an eight-ounce rocks glass worth of ice. Lock the pint glass in and shake vigorously for 15 or so seconds. The shaker should be ice-cold to touch.
  • Fish your eight-ounce rocks glass from the freezer and drop in the whole shaker, ice and all. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry. Serve.
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

When I worked behind the bar, I used to always wince a bit whenever someone ordered a whiskey sour sans egg white. It always seemed like such a shame — spoiling a classic — and this drink takes me right back to that feeling. It’s rough around the edges with a clear bourbon base. The wood, vanilla, and caramel are coming through but the bold sour of the citrus is amplifying those notes in all the wrong ways.

Yes, this is drinkable, but it’s nothing you’d want to make part of your everyday life.

PART III: Rick Dalton’s Stein Whiskey Sour

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Back at Casa de le Dalton, Rick settles into his night of running lines in the pool with a few whiskey sours in a stein he likely picked up in Germany, filming the movie-within-a-movie, The 14 Fists Of McClusky. There’s a pile of fresh lemons on Rick’s home bar and he’s happily cracking eggs and smoking while he shakes up his drink.

It’s a big step up from the version he was drinking over lunch.

Recipe:

  • 1.5 oz. Wild Turkey
  • 0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 0.75 oz. Simple Syrup
  • One Egg White
  • Maraschino Cherry
  • Ice

Method:

  • Build this one in the shaker just like the last drink: bourbon, juice, syrup. Then, crack an egg over the shaker and move the yolk back-and-forth between the two halves of the shell while the white drops into the shaker. Set the yolk aside in a bowl and use in another recipe later (I’m using mine in a meatloaf).
  • Next, Rick drops in some ice and shake, shake, shakes. When the shaker is icy cold, he pours the whole mix into his stein and heads back to the pool.
  • I’m not smoking a cigarette or heading poolside, so I shake for a good 30 seconds very vigorously. You really want to get that egg white to emulsify.
  • I then pour my whiskey sour into my stein and drop in the cherry.
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

Holy shit, this is so much better than the version without the egg. There’s a velvet texture at play with an almost earthy depth. The notes of vanilla and sweetness are bound by the meaty egg white, which brings out the spices a bit more. The sour of the citrus cuts through but never overwhelms.

I made another since you can’t see anything inside that stein. And, you can see the visual difference here. Still, my only complaint about just pouring this one out, ice and all, is that that ice starts to break down the foam from the egg white. It’s not a deal-breaker, but we can do better than drunk Rick Dalton.

Zach Johnston

PART IV: Zach’s Classic Whiskey Sour

Zach Johnston

So, the secret to the best whiskey sour is the dry shake. This allows the egg white to fully emulsify with the sugars and acids in the drink and create a svelte texture that lets each ingredient shine.

Recipe:

  • 1.5 oz. Wild Turkey
  • 0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 0.75 oz. Simple Syrup
  • One Egg White
  • Amarena Cherry
  • Ice

Method:

  • Build your cocktail in the shaker as mentioned above. Don’t add the ice.
  • Lock the lid on the shaker and shake vigorously for 30 solid seconds. Pop the lid off and add a handful of ice. Lock that lid back in and shake again for about 15 seconds, or until the shaker is ice-cold to touch.
  • Pop the lid off and let the excess drip back into the shaker from the lid. Fish a five-ounce rocks glass from the freezer. Grab a cocktail strainer and strain the whiskey sour into the glass. It should fill right to the top.
  • Garnish with the Amarena cherry. Serve.
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

This is the best of the three and it’s not even close. The velvet texture of this drink is like drinking silk. It’s as smooth as a vintage Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana collab. The notes from the bourbon are cut by a silky sourness that amps up the spices, vanilla, oak, and caramel sweetness. The Amarena cherry adds a nice note of spiced cherry sweetness that ebbs away from the saccharine note of the Maraschino.

I could drink eight of these without giving it a second thought.

Zach Johnston

Side-by-side, I 100 percent feel the utility Rick Dalton’s stein whiskey sour. It’s easy, tasty, and will get you hungover AF the next day. But, if I’m going to get drunk on something with sugar in it, it has to be better than just “good.” So, excuse me while I get my dry shake on.

Cheers, friends. And remember, “You’re Rick Fucking Dalton.”

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