Rum Sour Cocktail recipe

Rum Sour Cocktail recipe & history

By Timo Torner / Last updated on June 24, 2022 
The Rum Sour Cocktail is one delicious kind of a drink. And its origins go back all the way to the Caribbean and the British Navy.

The Rum Sour Cocktail is part of the Sour family. In fact, it's one of the first members and absolutely delicious. 

In saying that, the Whiskey Sour, another member of said family, might be more popular these days. Still, the first written down sours recipes were Gin Sour and Rum Sour (aka Santa Cruz Sour). 

Both recipes have been published in Jerry Thomas' The Bartender's Guide in 1856. So now let's see how to make the best Rum Sour and what the fuss is about.

Rum Sour history

All credits for inventing not only Rum Sour but the whole sour cocktail family go to the British Navy. 

First, having wanted to improve the taste of their low-quality Rum rations and later attempting to fight scurvy and malnutrition, British sailors used to mix their spirits with lime juice. 

Back then, doctors believed that the acid would help the sailors. But, actually, it was the high vitamin C content of the lime. -That's also why British seafarers are called Limeys, by the way.

Grog rations for British Navy soldiers

Anyway, while sailing in the Caribbean, Rum was the spirit that was available everywhere. Together with lime juice, it became known as Navy Grog

This creation, also reminiscent of a Daiquiri, was the origin of the Rum Sour cocktail as we know it today. 

All that dates back to the 1700s. So, it took more than a century before the first Rum Sour got mentioned in a book.

Ingredients of the Rum Sour

A classic Rum Sour consists of Rum, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup. Which, you will find, is still pretty close to what a Grog would be. 

Yet, there are some optional elements that will lift the drink to the next level.

Rum for the Rum Sour

When making a Rum Sour, the first question that probably comes to your mind is which Rum you should use. 

Especially since the list of flavor profiles in Rum is endless, and the decision between white and dark Rum is only the tip of the iceberg.

You can use both, white and dark Rum for your cocktail. However, I prefer dark Rum in this case. It's smoother and has a more complex flavor profile.

Rum Sour Cocktail

Still, in general, there are no rules. You can use any Rum you want. Though, saying that, the taste of your Rum Sour will highly depend on the Rum you choose.

Therefore, if you have a favorite dark Rum, very likely, that will be your best choice.

If you want my recommendation on which Rum to use, I suggest the following options for a start: Barbancourt, Havana club añejo especial, Plantation Grande Reserve, or Bacardi 8 years

All of the above are great value for money and taste great in a Rum Sour. Plus, with Barbancourt being a Haitian Rum, you can create a Haitian Rum Sour, which is now a recognized new version of the classic cocktail.

Rum Sour Cocktail

I want to mention, though, that since Havana club añejo especial is a Cuban product, it is not available in all countries; also not in the United States. 

A decent, affordable, and good-quality replacement would be the Puerto Rican Havana Club Añejo Classico. The two brands once belonged together. Nevertheless, their flavor profile does differ.

Lime and sugar

The lime juice for your Rum Sour should be freshly squeezed. As it's a key element of the drink, using store-bought citrus juice in a Sour cocktail is cutting one corner too many.

On the other hand, the simple syrup required for the cocktail can be store-bought. However, the cheapest and easiest way is to make your own simple syrup at home. All you need is a pot, water, and caster sugar.

Add Egg white or not?

The original version, also known as Santa Cruz Sour, does not have egg white as an ingredient. However, many modern recipes ask for egg white

It won't change or enhance the flavor but what it does is add a beautiful texture to your cocktail. 

The fluffy foam resulting from using egg white in a cocktail not only improves the visual appearance of your drink but also makes it smoother when drinking. 

Rum Sour egg white

If you never had egg white in a drink, it might sound weird at first. But it is a classic ingredient used in many famous and traditional cocktails. 

For example, the Peruvian national cocktail, Pisco Sour, and the famous Ramos Gin Fizz are well-known cocktails using egg white. 

So if you haven't tried it yet, don't be afraid. I promise it will only improve your drinking experience. And once you did try it, you probably don't want to go without it in the future.

Different versions of Rum Sour

The choice of Rum is not the only way to tweak this recipe. By adding or replacing elements, you can create something entirely new. 

Here are two recipes for inspiration:

Stone Rum Sour

Some recipes are using orange juice as an additional ingredient. That is not in the original recipe and is called a Stone Sour version of the classic Rum Sour.

Stone Sour Cocktail

Christmas Rum Sour

I made my very own twist on a rum sour by adding a Christmas spiced syrup. The syrup is made from a dry red wine refined with typical Christmas spices like cinnamon, oranges, cloves, etc. You can read more about my Christmas Spiced Rum Sour here.

Choosing the right glassware

Glassware always is essential in the world of mixology. Sometimes for the taste, often for the visuals, and sometimes for both. 

For Sour cocktails, there have been several suggestions over the years. Starting with Jerry Thomas' recommendation to use a "small bar glass", continuing with a claret glass, punch glass, and even a highball glass.

Today, Sour cocktails usually are served in the same type of glass: an old fashioned glass. Additionally, a Rum Sour should always come on the rocks. -A few drops of Angostura bitters and your Rum Sour is perfect.

Rum Sour Cocktail recipe

Rum Sour Recipe

A delicious recipe for a classic Rum Sour cocktail.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Preparation: 1 minute
Course: Drinks
Keyword: Rum Sour
Servings: 1
Calories: 266kcal
Cost: $2.90


  • 2 oz Rum Preferably dark rum like Havana club añejo especial
  • 1 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz Simple syrup
  • 1 Egg white
  • 3 drops Angostura bitters


  • Add rum, egg white, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker and shake - first without ice.
  • After 15 seconds of heavy shaking, fill the shaker up with ice and shake for another 20 seconds.
  • Double-strain through a Fine Mesh Strainer into a chilled old fashioned glass.
  • Add 2-3 drops of Angostura bitters on top. 


Serving: 5.25oz | Calories: 266kcal | Carbohydrates: 79.3g | Protein: 11.4g | Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 178mg | Potassium: 485mg | Sugar: 72g | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 127mg | Iron: 0.7mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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