Boston Sour Cocktail Drink

Boston Sour

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
Andrea
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano

Want a classic cocktail with a fun spin? Try this Boston Sour recipe! It’s a delicious drink, brimming with fresh ingredients, and you can make it in no time.

Boston Sour Recipe

Fall calls for this uncomplicated Boston Sour recipe! A blend of Whiskey, lemon juice, some sugar, and an egg white for a frothy texture makes this cocktail refreshingly vibrant.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

2 minutes

Servings:

1

Calories:

191 kl

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon zest twist, for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Cocktail Strainer
  • Fine strainer
  • Coupe Glass
  • Measuring Jigger

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Fill a coupe glass with ice and set it aside.
  • Add Egg White: Crack open an egg, separate white from yolk and pour 1 egg white into the shaker. Discard the yolk.
  • Add Simple Syrup: Add ½ oz simple syrup.
  • Add Lemon Juice: Measure and pour 1 oz fresh lemon juice into the shaker.
  • Add Bourbon: Pour 2 oz Bourbon into the shaker.
  • Shake Well: Fill the shaker with ice. Close it well and shake the ingredients vigorously for about 15 seconds.
  • Dry Shake: Open the shaker. Using the cocktail strainer, pour the liquid in the other tin and discard the ice. Close the shaker again and shake another time, for 15-20 seconds, without ice this time.
  • Strain: Discard the ice inside the coupe glass. Using the fine strainer, strain the mixture into the chilled glass.
  • Garnish: Express the lemon zest on top of the glass (you can either discard it after or place it on the rim of the glass for an added citrus touch). Serve immediately.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Bourbon: If you don't have bourbon, rye whiskey can be a good substitute. It has a spicier profile than bourbon's sweeter taste, but it works well in this cocktail.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: I've used bottled lemon juice in a pinch. The flavor could be fresh, but it does the job when fresh lemons aren't available. Fresh lime juice can also be an option.
  • Simple Syrup: You can make your own simple syrup by dissolving equal parts sugar and water over low heat. Alternatively, agave nectar can be used as a natural sweetener and to bring a different flavor profile to the drink.
  • Egg White: Aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) can be used as a vegan substitute for those with egg allergies. It gives the same frothy texture as egg whites.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Bourbon Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic bourbon substitute. Several brands are available that mimic the flavor of bourbon without the alcohol. If you’re feeling crafty, you can also make your own bourbon substitute by infusing together rooibos tea and a bunch of spices of your liking (vanilla and cinnamon are always a good way to start). Mix all the ingredients together, add hot water, cover and let it infuse for at least 3h (the stronger the better, so if you have time let it infuse overnight. In that case, you can either let it rest in the fridge once the liquid has cooled down). Give it a taste, adjust the spice level if necessary and strain it once you’re happy with the result. Stored properly (in an airtight container in the fridge), this “tea-whiskey” can be kept for up to a week.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use this non-alcoholic substitute instead of the regular bourbon, follow the original steps, and enjoy a non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

  • Egg White Substitute: As mentioned above, aquafaba is an excellent vegan substitute for egg whites. Use about 1 oz (30 ml) of aquafaba in place of each egg white. Follow the usual recipe (make sure to shake twice as well, once with ice and once without) to get that nice, frothy texture.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
191
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
0.1
g
0
%
Saturated Fat
 
0.01
g
0
%
Sodium
 
59
mg
3
%
Carbohydrates
 
13
g
4
%
Fiber
 
0.1
g
0
%
Sugar
 
11
g
12
%
Potassium
 
88
mg
3
%
Protein
 
3
g
6
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
0.01
g
Vitamin A
 
2
IU
0
%
Vitamin C
 
11
mg
13
%
Calcium
 
6
mg
1
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%

 

Boston Sour Cocktail Drink

Boston Sour Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
Jump to Video
Fall calls for this uncomplicated Boston Sour recipe! A blend of Whiskey, lemon juice, some sugar, and an egg white for a frothy texture makes this cocktail refreshingly vibrant.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 2 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 191

Ingredients
 

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon zest twist - for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Cocktail Strainer
  • Fine strainer
  • Coupe Glass
  • Measuring Jigger

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Fill a coupe glass with ice and set it aside.
  • Add Egg White: Crack open an egg, separate white from yolk and pour 1 egg white into the shaker. Discard the yolk.
  • Add Simple Syrup: Add ½ oz simple syrup.
  • Add Lemon Juice: Measure and pour 1 oz fresh lemon juice into the shaker.
  • Add Bourbon: Pour 2 oz Bourbon into the shaker.
  • Shake Well: Fill the shaker with ice. Close it well and shake the ingredients vigorously for about 15 seconds.
  • Dry Shake: Open the shaker. Using the cocktail strainer, pour the liquid in the other tin and discard the ice. Close the shaker again and shake another time, for 15-20 seconds, without ice this time.
  • Strain: Discard the ice inside the coupe glass. Using the fine strainer, strain the mixture into the chilled glass.
  • Garnish: Express the lemon zest on top of the glass (you can either discard it after or place it on the rim of the glass for an added citrus touch). Serve immediately.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Bourbon: If you don't have bourbon, rye whiskey can be a good substitute. It has a spicier profile than bourbon's sweeter taste, but it works well in this cocktail.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: I've used bottled lemon juice in a pinch. The flavor could be fresh, but it does the job when fresh lemons aren't available. Fresh lime juice can also be an option.
  • Simple Syrup: You can make your own simple syrup by dissolving equal parts sugar and water over low heat. Alternatively, agave nectar can be used as a natural sweetener and to bring a different flavor profile to the drink.
  • Egg White: Aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) can be used as a vegan substitute for those with egg allergies. It gives the same frothy texture as egg whites.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Bourbon Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic bourbon substitute. Several brands are available that mimic the flavor of bourbon without the alcohol. If you’re feeling crafty, you can also make your own bourbon substitute by infusing together rooibos tea and a bunch of spices of your liking (vanilla and cinnamon are always a good way to start). Mix all the ingredients together, add hot water, cover and let it infuse for at least 3h (the stronger the better, so if you have time let it infuse overnight. In that case, you can either let it rest in the fridge once the liquid has cooled down). Give it a taste, adjust the spice level if necessary and strain it once you’re happy with the result. Stored properly (in an airtight container in the fridge), this “tea-whiskey” can be kept for up to a week.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use this non-alcoholic substitute instead of the regular bourbon, follow the original steps, and enjoy a non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

  • Egg White Substitute: As mentioned above, aquafaba is an excellent vegan substitute for egg whites. Use about 1 oz (30 ml) of aquafaba in place of each egg white. Follow the usual recipe (make sure to shake twice as well, once with ice and once without) to get that nice, frothy texture.

What is a Boston Sour?

A Boston Sour is a whiskey-based cocktail made of bourbon, lemon juice, sugar, and an egg white. This classic drink is essentially a Whiskey Sour with the addition of an egg white to create a frothy texture and smooth taste.

Making a Boston Sour can be slightly challenging for beginners due to the inclusion of the egg white. The process involves first shaking the ingredients without ice (a technique known as “dry shaking”) to emulsify the egg white, then adding ice and shaking again to chill and dilute the drink.

A side shot of a Boston Sour cocktail in a cocktail glass on a white coaster placed on a turquoise tray surrounded by a a cocktail strainer, four lemon wedges, four sugar cubes, a bar spoon, and a white cloth

What is a Boston Sour made of – The ingredients

If you’re making a Boston Sour, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bourbon Whiskey: The base spirit of the cocktail, it provides a rich, full-bodied flavor.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: Adds a tart, refreshing element to balance out the sweetness.
  • Simple Syrup: Sweetens the drink and helps mellow out the lemon juice’s tartness.
  • Egg White: Creates a frothy texture and smooth mouthfeel when shaken with the other ingredients.
  • Ice: Chills the cocktail and dilutes the strong flavors slightly.
  • Lemon Zest: This garnish adds some visual appeal to the cocktail and is used to perfume the frothy layer on top of the drink with a nice touch of citrus.

Bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg, lemon and sugar cubes laid out on a white bar table

How do you make a Boston Sour?

Use our step-by-step instructions to become proficient at making a Boston Sour:

1
<p>Fill a coupe glass with ice, give it a quick stir and set it aside. This will chill the glass and ensure your drink is served at the perfect temperature.</p>

Fill a coupe glass with ice, give it a quick stir and set it aside. This will chill the glass and ensure your drink is served at the perfect temperature.

2
<p>Crack one fresh egg white into the shaker (discard the yolk). The egg white will give your Boston Sour a frothy, creamy texture that is a signature of this cocktail.</p>

Crack one fresh egg white into the shaker (discard the yolk). The egg white will give your Boston Sour a frothy, creamy texture that is a signature of this cocktail.

3
<p>Add 1 ounce of fresh lemon juice to the shaker. The lemon juice will give your drink a refreshing tartness that balances out the richness of the Bourbon.</p>

Add 1 ounce of fresh lemon juice to the shaker. The lemon juice will give your drink a refreshing tartness that balances out the richness of the Bourbon.

4
<p>Then, add ½ ounce of simple syrup in the mix. This will add sweetness to your drink and give the drink a smooth and round finish.</p>

Then, add ½ ounce of simple syrup in the mix. This will add sweetness to your drink and give the drink a smooth and round finish.

5
<p>Finally, pour 2 ounces of Bourbon of your choice into the shaker. The Bourbon brings a rich, deep flavor or corn & caramel that is the foundation of a Boston Sour.</p>

Finally, pour 2 ounces of Bourbon of your choice into the shaker. The Bourbon brings a rich, deep flavor or corn & caramel that is the foundation of a Boston Sour.

6
<p>Fill the shaker with ice cubes.</p>

Fill the shaker with ice cubes.

7
<p>Secure the lid and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. This will mix all the ingredients and chill the drink.</p>

Secure the lid and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. This will mix all the ingredients and chill the drink.

8
<p>Now, open the shaker. Using a cocktail strainer and a fine strainer, strain the liquid (not the ice) into the other part of the shaker. You should see some foam has started to form on the surface of the drink.</p>

Now, open the shaker. Using a cocktail strainer and a fine strainer, strain the liquid (not the ice) into the other part of the shaker. You should see some foam has started to form on the surface of the drink.

9
<p>Close the shaker again and shake well, without ice this time, making ample movements (15 - 20 seconds).</p>

Close the shaker again and shake well, without ice this time, making ample movements (15 - 20 seconds).

10
<p>Discard the ice in the coupe glass. Pour the mixture into the chilled glass.</p>

Discard the ice in the coupe glass. Pour the mixture into the chilled glass.

11
<p>Express the lemon zest on top of the glass.</p>

Express the lemon zest on top of the glass.

12
<p>You can either discard it after or place it on the rim of the glass for an added citrus touch. The essences in the lemon peel will give your cocktail a fresh, citrusy smell as well as an extra touch of lemon flavor.</p>

You can either discard it after or place it on the rim of the glass for an added citrus touch. The essences in the lemon peel will give your cocktail a fresh, citrusy smell as well as an extra touch of lemon flavor.

History and Origin

The Boston Sour cocktail, a delightful blend of Whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, and egg white, has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. Its origin is deeply rooted in the classic Whiskey Sour recipe, first documented in Jerry Thomas’s “How to Mix Drinks” in 1862.

The original Whiskey Sour did not always include an egg white; it was a simple mix of Whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar. It seems that the egg white became a popular option in Whiskey Sours in the 1920’s, as Robert Vermiere put in print in his 1922 book Cocktails: How to mix them that “a few drops of white of egg improves all Sours”. The addition of egg white not only brings a frothy texture to the drink but also mellows out the flavors and helps binding them harmoniously, and that’s why it remains such a popular option in Sour cocktails to this day.

A Boston Sour cocktail, shot from above, in a cocktail glass on a beige surface surrounded by Bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg, lemon and sugar cubes

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FAQ

How many calories are in a Boston Sour?
A standard serving of a Boston Sour contains approximately 200 calories. However, this can vary depending on the specific ingredients used and their quantities.
How strong is a Boston Sour?
The strength of a Boston Sour largely depends on the alcohol content of the Whiskey used. Typically, it has an Alcohol By Volume (ABV) of around 16-19%, translating to 32-38 proof. This makes it a moderately strong cocktail.
What type of alcohol is used in a Boston Sour?
Boston Sour primarily uses whiskey as its base spirit. Bartenders commonly use bourbon, but rye whiskey is also popular for its spicy undertones.
In what kind of glass is a Boston Sour served?
Traditionally, a Boston Sour is served in a coupe (or coupette) glass.
What does a Boston Sour taste like?
A Boston Sour offers a delightful balance of sweet and sour flavors. The sweetness from the simple syrup and the sourness from the fresh lemon juice complement the robust and toasted flavor of the whiskey. Adding egg white gives it a smooth, creamy texture that enhances the overall taste experience.
What is the ratio of ingredients in a Boston Sour?
The typical ratio for a Boston Sour is 2 parts whiskey, 1 part lemon juice, and ½ part simple syrup. An egg white is added to give the cocktail its frothy top.
How is a Boston Sour served with ice?
A Boston Sour is usually served “neat”, which means without ice. After shaking all ingredients together, including the egg white, it's strained into a chilled coupe or other stem cocktail glass.
Is there any specific time or occasion to enjoy a Boston Sour?
While there's no hard and fast rule, the Boston Sour is often enjoyed as an evening cocktail. Its balance of flavors makes it an excellent choice for pre-dinner drinks.
Is the Boston Sour suitable for people with dietary restrictions?
Generally speaking, the Boston Sour should be suitable for most people. However, it does contain egg whites, which could be an issue for vegans or those with egg allergies. Always check with your guests before serving and remember that in any case, it’s always possible to make a vegan version of this cocktail (see section above, “Making it vegan”).

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