The 12 best Sour Cocktails

By Sina Torner / Last updated on November 25, 2023

Sour Cocktails will never get out of fashion. They are a perfect example of how to combine ingredients in mixed drinks and make them work. Usually, you can find at least one version on the menu of a cocktail bar.
New York Sour Cocktail

They are perfectly balanced, sweet, and sour & you can add egg white to create a beautiful texture. - Sour Cocktails are simply a delight. 

It has been a Gin Sour that made me interested in craft cocktails and mixology. Back then, I didn't think I could find raw egg white even remotely enjoyable in a drink... Turns out, I find it very enjoyable.

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

1. Continental Sour

Continental Sour Cocktail on table

We begin with a Sour version that might not be an ultimate classic, but is my favorite: The Continental Sour. The base for this cocktail is a Whiskey Sour made with Bourbon, lemon juice, and rich simple syrup. 

That gets an upgrade of egg white foam and a port wine float. It's an impressive sight and a sensational sip. View Recipe

2. Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour Cocktail and bitters

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. 

If you want inspiration and recommendations regarding the spirit base, check out the Best Whiskey for a Whiskey SourView Recipe

3. New York Sour

New York Sour Cocktail

The New York Sour is another riff on the Whiskey Sour. The drink looks 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. Using a dry red wine here creates a great alternative for everyone who finds port slightly too sweet. View Recipe

4. Gin Sour

Gin Sour cocktail

The Gin Sour has its origin in England, the home 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. This recipe is also particularly well suited for getting creative with the sweetener.  View Recipe

5. Tequila Sour

Tequila Sour cocktail recipe

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

 You can also go with a Reposado instead of a Blanco for this cocktail. -Only make sure you use 100% agave tequila for the best results. View Recipe

6. Mezcal Sour

Mezcal Sour cocktail

One more Mexican take on a Sour cocktail but a slightly more complex and smoky version. To sweeten the drink, we use Cynar and add just a bit of agave nectar. If you're new to mezcal, you might want to opt for a brand that's not too heavy on the smoky flavor. If you need some help with selecting, check out these Mezcal Recommendations. View Recipe

7. Amaretto Sour

Amaretto Sour Cocktail with Maraschino cherry and Lemon

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

8. Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour Cocktail with Angostura Bitters on silver tablet

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 should order with an egg white. It makes the dots of Angostura bitters on top really shine, and Pisco needs that smooth texture. View Recipe

9. Rum Sour

Rum Sour Cocktail recipe

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, we know to be one of the most influential Tiki Cocktails. View Recipe

10. Christmas Spiced Rum Sour

Christmas Rum Sour Cocktail

This one is our favorite festive variation among all Sour cocktails. It gets some beautiful winter vibes through  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. View Recipe

11. Midori Sour

Midori Sour cocktail with cherry

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, though. 

It's a mix of Midori, lemon and lime, soda, and a dash of vodka. Considering the use of soda water, some might even argue it's closer to being 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. View Recipe

12. Trinidad Sour

Trinidad Sour cocktail

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

What Makes A 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 for the Sour Cocktail family. Yet, you can also work with lime. A few recipes even specifically ask for it. Sometimes, you will see grapefruit or orange juice in a Sour cocktail. But regardless of the citrus fruit in question, always make it freshly squeezed. 

The sweet: The chief purpose of the sweetener is to balance the boozy component and the acid from the lemon juice. But you can also use it to add flavor, complexity, and color to your drink with ingredients like figs 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 a wine float.

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