The 12 best Sour Cocktails

By Sina Torner / Last updated on March 20, 2023

Sour Cocktails will never get out of fashion. They are a prime example of how to pair ingredients to perfection, and you can find at least one version on the menu of any cocktail bar.
New York Sour

Sour Cocktails are absolutely delightful. They are perfectly balanced, plus you can add egg white to create the most beautiful texture.

It was a Gin Sour that got me interested in craft cocktails and mixology many years ago. Back then, I didn't think I could find raw egg white even remotely enjoyable in a drink. How things have changed...

Yet, even if you do find the idea of egg white in a drink irritating and want to leave it off, Sour Cocktails are still for you. So get ready for some truly delicious drinks!

What are Sour Cocktails?

Classic Sour Cocktails are a mix of liquor, an acidic element, and a sweet component to balance it all out. As mentioned, optionally, you can also add some egg white to create a beautiful foamy texture.

  • The spirit: The spirit builds the foundation of the cocktail and defines its taste. Basically, you can use any liquor to create a Sour. From Whiskey to Tequila to Midori Melon, there are almost no limits.
  • The Sour: The acidic part usually is lemon juice when talking about the Sour family. You can also work with lime. A few recipes even specifically ask for it, but you can't go wrong with lemon in a Sour. Sometimes, you will also see grapefruit or orange juice in a Sour cocktail. But regardless of the citrus fruit in question, always use freshly squeezed juices. 
  • The sweet: And then there's the sweetener. Its chief purpose is to balance the boozy component and the acid from the lemon juice. But you can also use it to add some additional flavor, complexity, and color to your drink with things like fig or passion fruits. Or floral notes with elderflower or hibiscus syrup.
  • Optional elements: Apart from the classic egg white, some recipes require the use of bitters, liqueur, or have a wine float.

The best 12 Sour Cocktails

Here are our favorite Sour Cocktails: From all-time classics to modern twists and completely new and unconventional takes, there's something for everyone.

Continental Sour Cocktail with cherry garnish
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Continental Sour

I want to begin with a Sour version that's not one of the ultimate classics simply because it is my favorite: The Continental Sour. 

The base for this cocktail is a Whiskey Sour, made with Bourbon, lemon juice, and rich simple syrup. And that base gets upgraded with an egg white foam and a port wine float. 

It's an impressive sight and an absolutely gorgeous sip.

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Whiskey Sour Cocktail and bitters
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Whiskey Sour

The Whiskey Sour dates back to the 19th century and is one of the first documented Sour cocktails. It's Whiskey with lemon juice and simple syrup.

Of course, there's a huge selection of Whiskeys in terms of types and brands. So, if you want some inspiration and recommendations, read the article about the Best whiskey for a Whiskey Sour

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New York Sour
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New York Sour

The New York Sour is another riff on the Whiskey Sour, looking very similar to the Continental Sour but is not quite the same.

Instead of the rich Port Wine, the New York Sour is served with a red wine float on top. Using a dry red wine here creates a great alternative for everyone who finds Port slightly too sweet. 

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Gin Sour cocktail
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Gin Sour

The Gin Sour has its origin in England, the home country of Gin. It's a lighter and mellower version of its American forerunner with Whiskey. 

The standard recipe asks for a classic London Dry Gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice. The Gin Sour recipe is also particularly well suited for getting creative with the sweetener. It's great to make use of your favorite homemade syrups .

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Tequila Sour cocktail
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Tequila Sour

The Tequila Sour is a refreshing cross between a classic Sour and a Margarita. It contains Silver Tequila, simple syrup, egg white, bitters, and lime instead of the standard lemon juice.  

You can also go with a Reposado instead of a Silver Tequila for this cocktail. And always make sure to use 100% agave Tequila to get the best results.

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Mezcal Sour cocktail
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Mezcal Sour

This one is another Mexican take on a Sour Cocktail, but a slightly more complex and smoky version. As a sweetener, you can use Cynar and add just a bit of agave nectar to the mix.

If you're new to Mezcal, you might want to opt for a brand that's not too heavy on the smoky flavors. If you need some help with selecting, check out these Mezcal recommendations.

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Amaretto Sour
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Amaretto Sour

If you have a sweet tooth, the Amaretto Sour could be the perfect choice for you. It's a twist on the classic Stone Sour made with Apricot Brandy and a really fantastic one.

Amaretto is a popular Italian liqueur made from apricot, peach stones, and almonds. It has a distinctly sweet, almost marzipan-like taste to it. And because Amaretto is relatively low in ABV and sweet, you best use a split base for this Sour Cocktail: Amaretto and a bit of Bourbon.

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Pisco Sour
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Pisco Sour

You do not want to miss out on a good Pisco Sour. I had the best Pisco Sour so far in Chile in a hostel far south in Puerto Natales. -It's also a drink you definitely should order with an egg white. It makes the dots of Angostura bitters on top really shine, and somehow Pisco needs the smooth texture.

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Rum Sour Cocktail recipe
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Rum Sour

Another classic on this list, and it goes back a long way. Most likely, Rum is one of the first spirits ever to be regularly combined with lemon or lime and sugar. 

So, the Rum Sour is a descendant of the Grog -which today is known to be one of the most influential Tiki cocktails. It's a delicious combination of Rum - preferably dark-, lime, simple syrup, and a few drops of Angostura bitters. 

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Christmas Rum Sour Cocktail
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Christmas Spiced Rum Sour

Our favorite festive variation among the Sour cocktails. It gets some beautiful winter vibes by using Christmas spiced syrup based on red wine.

The Christmas Rum Sour is made with dark Rum, lemon juice, syrup, and egg white. Garnished with star anise, a cinnamon stick, and a dehydrated orange, this drink is an absolute winner at every Christmas party. 

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Midori Cocktail
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Midori Sour

From winter back to summer. The Midori Sour is based on the famous green-colored Japanese Melon liqueur. 

It doesn't 100% follow the standard template of a Sour. It's a mix of Midori, lemon and lime, soda, and a dash of Vodka. Considering the use of soda water, one could even argue it's more like a member of the Collins cocktail family.

Still, it's officially a Sour. And what's more, it's full of flavor, not overly boozy, and tastes a lot like summer. 

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Trinidad Sour cocktail
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Trinidad Sour

The Trinidad Sour is a truly unique representative of the Sour Cocktail family. And something as unusual as this drink certainly deserves a spot on this list. 

The drink is based on Angostura's Aromatic bitters and requires attention to detail. Otherwise, it can go very wrong and taste awful. 

But if you stick to the recipe and the exact measurements of Rye, bitters, orgeat, lemon, and egg white, you're up for a surprisingly pleasant experience. 

View Recipe

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