Rum Sour Cocktail Recipe & History

By Timo Torner / Last updated on December 4, 2023

The Rum Sour Cocktail is one delicious kind of drink. Its origins go back to the Caribbean and all the way to the British Royal Navy.
Rum Sour cocktail garnished with orange peel

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 sour recipes were Gin Sour and Rum Sour (aka Santa Cruz Sour). 

Both recipes had 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 goes into the drink.

What goes into the cocktail

A classic Rum Sour consists of Rum, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup. You will find that this is pretty close to what a Grog would be. Yet, there are some optional elements that will lift the drink to the next level.

  • Rum - The variety of flavor profiles in different Rum types is sheer endless. The decision between white and dark Rum is only the tip of the iceberg. You can use both, yet, I prefer dark Rum in this recipe. It's smoother and more complex. Recommendations are aged Havana clubPlantation Grande Reserve, or Bacardi 8 years
  • Lime juice - The juice in your Rum Sour should be freshly squeezed. as it's a key element of the drink.
  • Simple syrup - On the other hand, the syrup can be store-bought. Still, it is cheaper to make your own at home. 
  • Egg white - The original version, also known as Santa Cruz Sour, does not include egg white. However, many modern recipes do. It won't change the flavor, but it adds a beautiful texture to your cocktail. 

How to make a Rum Sour

To get that perfect egg white foam in our Rum Sour recipe, dry shake the ingredients before shaking them with ice. Here are all the steps you should follow to make this amazing Sour cocktail.

Step 1: Put all the ingredients together in a shaker without ice and shake for 10 to 15 seconds. That helps to create a strong, foamy top for your drink.

Step 2: Next, add ice into your shaker and shake again for 10 seconds. 

Step 3: Strain into a chilled sour glass (without ice) or rocks glass (over fresh ice). Then add a couple of drops of Angostura bitters, and your Rum Sour is ready to be served.

Rum Sour Cocktail served in Old Fashioned glass

How to serve it

Glassware always is essential in the world of mixology. Sometimes for the taste, often for the visuals, and occasionally 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 and on the rocks. -A few drops of Angostura bitters, and your Rum Sour is perfect.

Popular Riffs

The choice of Rum is not the only way to tweak this recipe but one of the easiest. By adding or replacing elements, you can create something entirely new. Here are some excellent riffs on the Rum Sour.

Haitian Rum Sour

As the name suggests, this Rum Sour variation is based on Rum produced in Haiti. The best Rum for this is probably Rhum Barbancourt. The Barbancourt distillery began producing their Rhum Agricole in 1862 and is still one of the best Haitian Rum producers. You can substitute the dark Rum in our recipe and keep the measurements.

Stone Rum Sour

Some recipes include orange juice as an additional ingredient. That is not in the original recipe and is called a Stone Sour.

Christmas Rum Sour

Make our festive version of a Rum Sour by adding Christmas spiced syrup. The syrup is made from a dry red wine refined with typical Christmas spices like cinnamon, oranges, cloves, etc.


All credit for inventing the Rum Sour, along with the whole Sour Cocktail family, goes to the British Navy. 

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

Grog rations for British Navy soldiers

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

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.

Rum Sour cocktail garnished with orange peel

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


  • 1 Cocktail Shaker
  • 1 Hawthorne Strainer
  • 1 Jigger


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


  • Add rum, egg white, simple syrup, and lime 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 10 seconds.
  • Double-strain through a Fine Mesh Strainer into a chilled old fashioned glass.
  • Add 2-3 drops of Angostura bitters on top. 


Serving: 5.25ozCalories: 266kcalCarbohydrates: 22.3gProtein: 3.4gSodium: 59mgPotassium: 165mgSugar: 22gVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 0.2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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