Sours Recipes: Liquor, Citrus juice, sugar, and bitters (optional)… and maybe some egg white.

Sours - Speaking Easy Podcast - Cocktails and Home Entertaining - Bartending (1)

Sours are a traditional genus of cocktails that are as about as old as cocktails themselves. The legendary bartender Jerry Thomas included them in his book How to Mix Drinks all the way back in 1862. As noted at the top, they are base liquor, citrus juice (although traditionally lemon or lime), and a sweeting agent (i.e. sugar, simple syrup, grenadine, or triple sec). Many sour recipes will also call for egg white. Margaritas and Daiquiris, which we’ve already provided recipes for are classic sours.

Gin Sour[i]

  • 2 oz. gin[ii]
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • Options: A couple dashes Angustora bitters[iii] and/or half or more of an egg white[iv].


Add all ingredients in a shaker add ice, and shake well. Strain into a chilled rocks glass or coupe, or keep the ice in the rocks glass if you like. A citrus peel is a great garnish here, but you don’t need to stick with lemon, Jordan likes to express[v] a grapefruit peel over a simple Gin Sour.


A Vodka Sour isn’t really something you see on a menu often, and most of the time you’ll be getting something with sweet and sour mix if it is there (which if you haven’t already picked up from the podcast, neither Alex nor Jordan are a fan). If you do want to play with lemon juice and vodka, maybe add a little grenadine… anyway, we prefer a Vodka Collins, so here you go…

Vodka Collins[vi]

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup[vii]
  • 3 oz. club soda


Add first three ingredients in a shaker, add ice, and shake well. Strain into a highball glass filled ¾ of the way with ice cubes. Top with club soda.

[i] This recipe also works equally well for a whiskey sour, we prefer rye whiskey or a high proof bourbon.

[ii] Don’t use your “sipping” gins for a gin sour, the flavors you like in that gin will likely get washed out by the fresh lemon juice.

[iii] The addition of Angustora bitters turns this Gin Sour into a Fitzgerald. We like it with a couple dashes before the shake, and a couple dashes to float on the top. This will turn a typically light yellow drink into a peach colored drink, and peach bitters aren’t a bad addition, too.

[iv] If you choose to use egg white, which is highly recommended for a richer flavor, and more robust texture, dry shake all the ingredients first to allow the egg white to froth, then add ice to the shaker and shake again. This process should create a nice “foam” on the top of the drink, much like the head on a good beer sour beer.

[v] “Expressing” is the fancy word bartending books use for squeezing the citrus oils out of the peel and into the drink.

[vi] “Collins” cocktails are part of the Sour Cocktail family tree, with the addition of Soda for a lighter, more effervescent drink.

[vii] Or rich simple with is 2 parts sugar sugar dissolved in 1 part water. Heating the water helps a lot to speed up the process, but avoid bringing it to a boil.