Pawpaw Whiskey Sour

(Makes 8 cocktails – Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Riordan. Photo courtesy of Erin Riordan)

Brewers, distillers, and bartenders throughout Ohio have discovered the fun flavors of pawpaw. Used in moderation, pawpaw can add welcome tropical notes to beer, vodka, and a variety of cocktails.

Elizabeth Riordan taught me that citrus is a great foil to pawpaw’s saccharin flavor. The woodsy spice of a fine whiskey also pairs well with pawpaw’s earthy notes, so a whiskey sour is the perfect cocktail for aspiring mixologists wanting to experiment with pawpaw.

This is Beth’s First Place entry in the 15th annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival Cook-Off competition. She literally left the judges scoring the Beverages category wobbly-kneed and slack-jawed with her signature pawpaw whiskey sour. (As one judge admitted, when a drink is this good, it’s hard to limit yourself to just a taste.)


Pawpaw Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup pawpaw pulp


2 parts Pawpaw Simple Syrup
1½ parts whiskey
1 part freshly squeezed lemon juice


Pawpaw Simple Syrup

Combine simple syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir gently until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture thickens just slightly. (Take care not to heat the syrup more than necessary, otherwise you will lose much of the fresh pawpaw flavor.)

Strain well. (Any leftover syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.)


Place 1 or 2 large ice cubes in an old-fashioned cocktail glass. Pour all ingredients into a shaker, shake well, and strain over the ice.