These Large Batch Whiskey Sours are a easy to make and perfect for the crowd at your next party or potluck!
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Whiskey Sours are a serious tradition in my family. For as long as I can remember, my grandfather would make these classic drinks for every holiday or get together we’d have. I’m reasonably certain it was the first cocktail I ever tried, likely given to me when I hit an age where I felt too old for Shirley Temples (little did I know there is no such thing). The drink was handed to me full of bright red maraschino cherries and giant wedges of orange, and was quite likely heavily diluted. It was delicious and citrusy and sweet.
When my now-husband Sam came his first holiday with our family some years ago, he was introduced to this tradition. Always the solicitous host, my grandfather offered him wine or one of his famous Whiskey Sours. Sam accepted the mixed drink, and (while he didn’t drink much) he too was hooked. Nowadays, it’s one of the very few cocktails he’ll order on a regular basis.
We even served Whiskey Sours as our signature drink at our wedding a couple years ago. By sheer coincidence, it was a perfect fit for our 1930’s travel, jazz (and actually Indiana Jones) inspired wedding – but that’s a story for another day.
As time has passed, I’ve dutifully taken over my grandfather’s task of making large batches of Whiskey Sours for our family. A traditional Whiskey Sour is easy to make – simple syrup, lemon juice, Cointreau (or triple sec), and whiskey. My grandfather made them with these little packets of powdered mix – just add water and whiskey. As I try to err towards more homemade ingredients, I sought a homemade recipe that would still meet family approval.
Just multiplying a standard recipe can get pricey, so to make a large batch that is a little more drinkable and a little less expensive, I followed Martha Stewart’s example and made a punch-like version that includes orange juice. This satisfies the sugar fix the artificial packets can carry, and the lemon juice adds the tart. It’s rounded out with homemade simple syrup, orange liquor (I’m partial to Cointreau), and the whiskey.
Oh, and of course, you can’t forget some absolutely delicious maraschino cocktail cherries.
Due to the sheer amount I end up making (and the number of flavors), I usually use a bottle of “the cheap stuff” (as my grandfather always insists on) for the whiskey portion. Feel free to elevate yours with a better label if you feel so inclined. So far, I haven’t gotten any complaints regarding the switch to real simple syrup and fresh juices, though. The recipe has even earned my grandfather’s high seal of approval, which is notoriously rare in our family.
I fall back on this recipe for all sorts of casual events. I love bringing a pitcher to picnics and recently made it for our Super Bowl party last month. The Whiskey Sours come together quickly and are always a crowd-pleaser. The punch travels well if kept in a well-sealed container (just give it a quick stir or shake if the ingredients start to separate). Just make sure you load up the glasses with maraschino cherries and piles of oranges, and you’ll be on the track to being a surrogate member of the family!
Large Batch Whiskey Sours
Adapted from Martha Stewart
- 4 cups orange juice I use store-bought Tropicana, but I’m sure fresh squeezed would be delicious
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup Cointreau or other orange liquor
- 2 1/2 cups whiskey
- 1/2 cup simple syrup, plus more to taste
- Splash of cherry syrup or grenadine to each glass
- Maraschino cherries and orange slices, to garnish
- Combine all ingredients through the simple syrup in a large pitcher. Stir to combine. Serve each individual cocktail over ice with a splash of cherry syrup or real grenadine. Garnish each glass with one cherry (or more, I won’t judge!) and an orange wedge.
8 thoughts on “Large Batch Whiskey Sours | A Family Tradition”
How do you make the simple syrup?
Hi Diane! You can purchase storebought simple syrup, but making a basic simple syrup is just as it sounds – super simple! I usually add a link but I guess I forget to in this post. Food52 has a great explanation (https://food52.com/blog/9845-how-to-make-and-infuse-simple-syrup), but honestly all you need to do is combine 1 part sugar with 1 part water in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, and then I usually let it reduce for another 5-10 minutes (but you don’t have to). I suggest using at least 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water for this method. Remove from heat, let it cool, and then transfer to a jar or bottle to keep in the fridge. It should last about a month in the fridge. Hope that helps!
Is there anyway you can help me.convert this reveipe to a 5gallon jug? It’s one of my signature drinks for my wedding as well and I’m having a hard time trying to figure out how much of each ingredient I will need 🙁
Just read below that this recipe makes 64 ounces which is half a gallon. So you’ll need to multiply the ingredients by 10 to make your 5 gallon jug.
Hope you have a wonderful wedding.
Large batch whiskey sour
How far ahead can I make ahead of time?
Do I serve cold since it I don’t see ice in the recipe?
I’ve made it as early as the night before, and stored it in the fridge. The OJ can be perishable, so make sure you don’t leave it out too long.
I usually serve it chilled from the fridge, and over ice in the glasses – I wouldn’t add ice to the pitcher, since it would dilute the punch.
Hope that helps and you enjoy the recipe!
Your qty is 8 glasses, how many ounces is each glass. I’m looking to make this as my signature drink at my wedding and using one those large beverage dispensers.
Hi Crystal –
First off, congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I feel honored that you are considering using this recipe as your signature drink. 🙂
The recipe makes between 8-9 cups of liquid (64-72 ounces), with each portion being about 1 cup (8 ounces). You can easily stretch the recipe out a bit by adding more orange juice, just check for taste as you go.
Hope that helps!