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.
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!
The most classic of all sour cocktails: the whiskey sour! It's an iconic drink that goes back centuries. Its flavor is perfectly balanced between sweet, tart, and boozy.
Variations: Boston Sour (adds egg white), Gold Rush (made with honey syrup), Whiskey Smash
Ingredients: Bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, maple syrup or simple syrup
There’s truly no drink like it. Meet the classic pisco sour! This sour cocktail from Peru is mega popular for a reason. It’s just that good. The way the pisco melds with the lime makes it bright, mellow, and distinctly magical. Here’s how to make this famous classic cocktail that’s earned it’s place in history.
Ingredients: Pisco, lime, simple syrup, egg white, bitters
Did you know the margarita is one of the most popular sour cocktails? Here's the classic way to make it: with three ingredients and a salt rim. Perfection!
Variations: Try all our Margarita Recipes (Mezcal, Cadillac, Jalapeño and more)
Ingredients: Tequila, Cointreau, lime juice
The sidecar is one of the best classic sour cocktails of all time! Why? Taste it and you'll see. This drink is perfectly balanced between sweet and tart, and layered and complex: warm, crisp, dry, rich, and full at the same time.
Variations: Vodka Sidecar, Bourbon Sidecar, White Lady, Between the Sheets
Ingredients: Cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice
The tequila sour is a delightfully refreshing sweet tart drink with a frothy foam topping! It’s a mashup of a 1920’s sour cocktail with a margarita.
Ingredients: Tequila, lemon juice, lime juice, simple syrup, Angostura bitters, egg white
The Paloma is a variation on the margarita, that classic sour! Combine tequila and grapefruit and you’ve got the classic Mexican Paloma.
Ingredients: Tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup, soda water
Did you know the mojito was a sour cocktail? This iconic Cuban cocktail is refreshing and perfectly balanced with lime, rum and fresh mint!
Ingredients: Rum, fresh mint, lime juice, simple syrup, soda water
The daiquiri is one of the easiest drinks there is: and a 1920's classic sour cocktail! The classic daiquiri was not frozen, as has become popular today. As you can see, it's similar to the mojito.
Variations: Lime Frozen Daiquiri, Strawberry Daiquiri, Hemingway Daiquiri
Ingredients: Rum, fresh mint, lime juice, simple syrup
The Gin Fizz is one of the most iconic gin cocktails: and it's a sour cocktail too! It's got a classic egg white foam, and is topped off with soda water.
Variations: Gin Sour, Bees Knees (with honey syrup)
Ingredients: Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, soda water
The Tom Collins is an iconic gin sour cocktail that's a variation on the gin fizz! It's light, bubbly and perfectly sweet tart. It's typically served in a highball glass.
Ingredients: Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, soda water
The classic gimlet is another in the list of sour cocktails! It's the perfect balance of sweet and tart with the botanical flavor of gin.
Variations: Vodka Gimlet, French Gimlet (adds St Germain)
Ingredients: Gin, lime juice, simple syrup
The French 75 is a popular champagne drink: but you might not think of it as a sour cocktail too! It's got a balanced, sweet tart flavor with lots of bubbles.
Ingredients: Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, champagne
Here’s another sophisticated, classic sour cocktail: the White Lady! It’s a classic sour featuring gin, grenadine or raspberry syrup, and lemon with a frothy egg white foam.
Variations: White Lady Cocktail
Ingredients: Gin, raspberry syrup or grenadine, lemon juice, egg white
Here's a unique sour cocktail: the Southside! It's a refreshing gin drink made with mint, lemon and lime: think of it like a gin mojito!
Variations: Southside Fizz (adds soda water)
Ingredients: Gin, lemon juice, lime juice, fresh mint, simple syrup
The Cosmo is a sour cocktail, too! This vibrant pink drink is sweet tart, and gets its beautiful color from cranberry juice.
Ingredients: Vodka, 100% cranberry juice, lemon juice, Cointreau, simple syrup
The vodka sour is a classic sour cocktail: it’s refreshingly sweet tart with a frothy egg white foam on top! Use our dry shake technique to get the perfect foam.
Ingredients: Vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, Angostura bitters, egg white
The lemon drop martini is intensely sweet tart! It’s festive and refreshing, with a lemon twist and sugar rim.
Ingredients: Vodka or citron vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice, simple syrup
Here's another sour cocktail martini spin: the Pomegranate Martini! Crisp, sweet tart, fruity, and light: it’s much closer to a Cosmo than the classic martini. But instead of cranberry juice, it’s made with pomegranate juice!
Ingredients: Vodka, Pomegranate juice, lemon juice, Cointreau, simple syrup
Here's the perfect amaretto sour! It's nothing like those syrupy versions with sour mix. Made correctly, this drink can be one of the best sour cocktails out there! It’s tangy and sweet tart, with a hint of almond from the amaretto that’s toned down by the secret ingredient: bourbon.
Ingredients: Amaretto, bourbon, lemon, simple syrup, egg white, bitters
The New York sour is one of the most stunning sour cocktails there is! Make a classic whiskey sour and float a layer of red wine on top.
Ingredients: Bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, maple syrup or simple syrup, red wine
Classic Whiskey Sour
- 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
- Add the bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, and syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill with a handful of ice and shake until very cold.
- 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:
- Gin Cocktails All the classics: Gin Fizz, Gin and Tonic, and more!
- Bourbon Cocktails Try these bourbon greats: the Whiskey Sour, Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and more.
- Champagne Cocktails These cocktails are light and bubbly! Perfect for celebration.
- Cranberry Cocktails Vibrant cranberry cocktails are so refreshing, like Vodka Cranberry and Sea Breeze.
- Frozen Alcoholic Drinks Cool off with Frose or Frozen Sangria.