The Gin Sour follows one of the most simple templates in mixology: A spirit base paired with citrus juice, a sugar syrup, and an optional egg white for a frothy texture. Yet, this representative of the sour cocktail family is just as adaptable and multifaceted as its base spirit is. By adding a splash of bubbly club soda water, you can turn it into a Gin Fizz.
We will explore the origin of this drink, explain the ingredients you need to make it, and show you some of the best variations on the classic Gin Sour cocktail recipe.
What is a Gin Sour?
The Gin Sour cocktail is a member of the sour cocktail family. Per definition, these drinks contain a spirit base, citrus juice (often from lemons), and a sweetener. In some cases, a frothy element is added in form of egg white or aquafaba, the vegan alternative.
Ingredients in a Gin Sour cocktail
Let's get into detail and look at the ingredients you need to make a classic Gin Sour cocktail.
- Gin: Preferably a London Dry Gin to get that distinct juniper note into the cocktail
- Lemon juice: Either freshly squeezed lemon juice for a kick of acidity or aged lemon juice (for 3-8 hours) for a more mellow lemon taste.
- Syrup: I prefer a simple syrup (1 part sugar for 1 part water), but using a rich syrup (2:1 sugar to water) is an alternative for a richer mouthfeel.
- Egg white: I personally prefer using egg whites. If you're not a fan, aquafaba or another foamer is fine.
- Angostura bitters: Just a few drops to garnish the drink.
How to make a Gin Sour cocktail
The Gin Sour requires the so-called dry shake technique. All ingredients are shaken first without ice to create a firm foam. Then you open the cocktail shaker, add ice cubes, and shake again vigorously before straining it into a sour glass. Here's a quick step-by-step guide:
- Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker without ice.
- Seal the shaker and shake vigorously for 10 -12 seconds.
- Open the shaker, add ice cubes, and seal again.
- Now shake again for 10-12 seconds.
- Strain into a chilled sour or coupe glass
- Garnish with a few drops of aromatic bitters (Angostura) and a lemon twist.
- 1 Cocktail Shaker
- 1 Hawthorne Strainer
- 1 Jigger
- 2 oz Gin
- 0.75 oz Fresh lemon juice
- 0.5 oz Simple syrup
- 1 Egg white - (optional)
- 3-4 drops Angostura bitters
- Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker without ice and shake it for 20 seconds. That will help the egg white build the beautiful foam. (If you don't like egg white, you can start with the next step)
- Put ice in the shaker and shake again. To properly cool the drink and keep the foam, shake it for around 10 seconds.
- Strain into a chilled sour or coupe glass.
- Garnish your drink a few drops of Angostura bitters or with a lemon peel if you want. Voila, here's your perfect Gin Sour.
When was it invented?
The origin of the Gin Sour is hazy. There are various stories and claims regarding its creation and who made it first, but nothing seems particularly convincing.
There are indications that it was invented around the mid-1800s. The first time it was published in written form was in 1862 when Jerry Thomas included the recipe in his book The Bartenders Guide.
The basic idea of Sour cocktails in general can be traced back to the Navy Grog. Over time, that formula evolved into many different drinks and drink families.
Choosing the right gin
I like to keep it classic and recommend choosing a classic London Dry Gin like Tanqueray. Tanqueray is known for its distinct junipery taste and works excellently in a Gin Sour.
Another great gin for this drink is Beefeater. This classic London Dry is affordable, of good quality, and super versatile. It works with almost every gin cocktail recipe.
If you are unsure which one you should choose, here's a detailed comparison of Beefeater and Tanqueray Gin.
In case you're not the biggest fan of classic London Dry Gins, you could also opt for Bombay Sapphire Gin. If you wonder where the difference is, we explain how Bombay Sapphire compares to Tanqueray. Or, if you feel experimental, look through our list of recommended gins for a Gin Sour.
Gin Sour variations
One of my favorite riffs on the Gin Sour is the Pink Gin Sour cocktail. Invented by Carson Quinn, this elegant drink incorporates Peychaud's bitters to deepen the overall taste and alter the color of the cocktail.
You can also jazz up the classic combination of gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup by using flavored syrup instead. Syrups made from mango, raspberry, dragonfruit, or figs bring fruity flavors to the base recipe. Also, don't miss out on some magic, and check out our selection of homemade flavored or color-changing syrups.
Other sour cocktails
The Gin Sour recipe is just one of many in the family of sour drinks. There are even more famous representatives like Whiskey Sour, Amaretto Sour, or Pisco Sour. Some of them are made with lemon, others with lime juice. - You can also try the Stone Sour, a variation of the classic Whiskey based Sour with apricot notes.
Ultimately, you can make sour cocktails out of any spirit base - for example, the Rum Sour, Tequila Sour, and Mezcal Sour. Among my favorites are also some more fancy variations, namely the Continental Sour, New York Sour, and Midori Sour.