How do you improve on a classic like the Whisky Sour? Answer, stick some jam in it! For this week’s cocktail, top bartender Joe Petch shows us how to make a Jam Sour with Monkey Shoulder whisky. 

The Whisky Sour is one of the world’s oldest cocktails, according to Monkey Shoulder brand ambassador Joe Petch. It’s just alcohol, sugar and lime or lemon juice. Those basic components are the building blocks for so many drinks, not just the Sour, but the punches etc. Classics like the Daiquiri, Mai Tai and Margarita are simply variations on the Sour formula.

A malt made for mixing

You can make a Sour with anything but this week we’re using a blended malt whisky that’s specifically designed for mixing, Monkey Shoulder. It’s proved something of a bartender’s favourite as it offers a lot of flavour at a good price. As Petch put it: “You don’t want to mix with anything too expensive or your cocktail will be prohibitively expensive.”

Joe Petch - brand ambassador for Monkey Shoulder whisky

Joe Petch, brand ambassador and owner of an amazing home bar

Monkey Shoulder was an innovative product when it was launched in 2005 by William Grant & Sons. A blended malt, it “crosses categories between a single malt and a blended whisky,” according to Petch. 16 years ago the blended whisky category was quite static though companies like Compass Box, founded in 2000, were just starting to shake things up.

The initial blend was made with William Grant’s Speyside distilleries, Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie. Well, you might as well keep it in the family. With the brand’s increasing popularity, it quickly ran into stock problems so it’s now made from a changing line-up of malt new makes which are aged and blended to David Stewart’s “fingerprint” to ensure consistency.

Introducing Joe Petch

Petch has been with William Grant & Sons for ten years. A lifetime in the drinks industry. He began his career behind the bar when he took a year off after school and didn’t know what he wanted to do with himself. “I’m still on my gap year,” he jokes. He worked in a number of bars in Reading where he learned to deal with difficult customers, and make drinks quickly and efficiently. Before moving to a well-known Reading bar, Sahara, and from there to William & Grant and Sons. He has had a number of roles including working with Reyka Icelandic vodka, Discarded Vermouth, and, of course, brand ambassador for Monkey Shoulder.

Like the rest of us, he’s not getting out much at the moment but when we spoke he looked very happy in his fully-stocked basement bar at home. We are extremely jealous. “It’s the only place that’s been open,” he said. He is eager to get out, however, it could be anywhere from his local pub to the American Bar at the Savoy. He’s missing the click of glasses, the murmur of conversation, and the music playing. “I miss that connection to people,” he said. 

Tune in to Lock-In-Live

If you’re missing all that too, you might want to tune into Monkey Shoulder’s Lock-In-Live on 29 March at 10am and 6pm BST. Petch described it as a cross between the Late Show and Sunday Brunch. It’s hosted by Petch and TV presenter Sarah Lamptey. With guests including Ago Perrone from the Connaught, DJ Santero from the Ministry of Sound and artist/ rapper Harry Mack (see trailer above). According to Petch they did a trial run last year for industry types and it was a massive success. For this event, anyone can join here; they’re expecting around 5,000 people.

If you do tune in, then you’ll want to make a Monkey Jam Sour or two to sip while you watch. Petch isn’t proscriptive about how to make it. The magic is in using jam to sweeten it alongside a simple syrup. He’s been using spiced pear jam recently, but says that marmalade is particularly good with the orangey flavour profile of Monkey Shoulder. According to Petch this looseness and sense of experimentation is part of the ethos of the brand – #makeitmonkey, as he puts it. Petch’s recipe is served on ice but you can serve it straight up or add a dash of soda at the end.

Monkey Jam Sour with Monkey Shoulder blended malt whisky

Mmmm, Monkey Jam Sour

Here’s how to make a Monkey Jam Sour

50ml Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt
20ml fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons of jam
Sugar syrup (1:1 ratio) to taste
Dash orange bitters

Put all ingredients in the shaker, taste and add more sugar syrup if you prefer. Add fresh ice and shake hard. Strain into an ice-filled tumbler and top with soda water if you fancy.