20 Best Sour Cocktails to Try

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!

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Whiskey sour

Classic Whiskey Sour


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

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

Description

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.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) bourbon whiskey*
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce (1 1/2 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

Instructions

  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. 

Notes

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

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

Keywords: Sour Cocktails

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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