This post may include affiliate links; for details, see our disclosure policy.

Sour cocktails are one of the oldest drink families: because they’re truly timeless! Here are the best sour recipes to try: whiskey sour, margarita, and more.

Tequila sour

Sour cocktails are one of the oldest cocktail families: and for good reason! The sweet tart flavor is simply timeless: it doesn’t matter what decade you live in! What’s a sour? It’s a mixed drink made of liquor, citrus, and sweetener. You might be surprised by the familiar names of cocktails that are part of the sour family. The Margarita! The Cosmo! Sours are near and dear to Alex and me: they are my favorite family of drinks, so we’ve set out on a quest to try them all.

Here are the basic the elements of a sour cocktail:

  • Liquor: Sours can be made with just about any spirit: whiskey, vodka, gin, tequila, and brandy.
  • Citrus (the “sour”): Usually you’ll see lemon juice or lime juice, but some variations have grapefruit or orange.
  • Sweetener: Simple syrup or orange liqueur like Cointreau or triple sec (which contain sugar) are the common sweeteners.
  • Egg white: (optional): Often you’ll see classic 1920’s style sour drinks topped with an egg white foam. This gives the drink a creamy, rich texture and frothy topping, like in the Boston Sour or Gin Fizz.

As you can imagine, there are endless variations on the sour. Below we’ve listed the 3 most popular sour cocktails, then listed the rest organized by type of liquor.

And now, the best sour cocktails!

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Whiskey sour

Classic Whiskey Sour

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


The most famous of sour cocktails: the whiskey sour! It’s perfectly balanced with bourbon, lemon and sweetener. Garnish with an orange peel and a cocktail cherry.


  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) bourbon whiskey*
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce (1 ½ tablespoons) pure maple syrup (or simple syrup)
  • Garnish: Orange peel and a cocktail cherry
  • Ice, for serving
  • Variation: Add an egg white for a Boston Sour


  1. Add the bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, and syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill with a handful of ice and shake until very cold.
  2. Strain the drink into a lowball or Old Fashioned glass. Serve with ice, an orange peel and a cocktail cherry. 


*You can use any variety of whiskey, but we prefer it with the sweeter flavor of bourbon. 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Sour Cocktails

More types of cocktails

We’ve got lots more great cocktail recipes for you! Here are some of our best cocktail collections:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.