Vodka Sour Cocktail Drink

Vodka Sour

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

The Vodka Sour recipe provides all the ingredients needed for a solid cocktail. It’s simple to make and ensures a refreshing and classic taste.

Vodka Sour Recipe

Using vodka, zesty lemon juice, and simple syrup, this refreshing cocktail is a must-try for any gathering.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

168 kl

Ingredients

  • oz Vodka
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 1 egg white, for frothiness, optional
  • 2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon slice or cherry, for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Shaker
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Old Fashioned Glass or Coupe Glass
  • Strainer

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Fill up an old fashioned glass with ice cubes to chill it.
  • Add Angostura Bitters: Add 2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters to the shaker.
  • Add Egg White: If you're using it, add 1 egg white for frothiness.
  • Add Simple Syrup: Add ½ oz simple syrup to the mix.
  • Add Lemon Juice: Measure and pour 1 oz fresh lemon juice into the mix.
  • Add Vodka: Pour 1½ oz Vodka into the mix.
  • Shake Vigorously: Close the shaker and shake the mixture thoroughly.
  • Prep Shaker: Fill your cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  • Shake again: Shake for about 15-20 seconds one more time.
  • Strain and Pour: Pour the mixture over fresh ice into the Old Fashioned glass or Coupe Glass using the strainer.
  • Garnish: Place a lemon slice or cherry into the glass for garnish.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Vodka: Gin makes an interesting swap if you're out of vodka. I've tried it, and the botanicals from the gin add a unique twist to the traditional Vodka Sour. Another option? White rum. It lends a sweeter profile to the drink.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh is always best, but bottled lemon juice can suffice in a pinch. Adjust the simple syrup to taste since bottled versions might be tart.
  • Simple Syrup: Honey syrup or agave nectar are excellent alternatives. They both add a slightly different sweetness and flavor profile.

Making a Pitcher of Vodka Sour:

  • Scale: To prepare a pitcher that serves 8, you'll need 12 oz of vodka, 8 oz of fresh lemon juice, and 4 oz of simple syrup.
  • Mix: Combine the vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a large pitcher. Stir until well mixed.
  • Serve: Pour the drink into ice-filled glasses, add garnish, and enjoy with friends.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Vodka Substitute: Seek out a non-alcoholic spirit or vodka alternative. Some brands on the market replicate the bite and clarity of vodka without the alcohol.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use the non-alcoholic substitute instead of vodka and follow the original steps for a refreshing non-alcoholic Vodka Sour.

Making it Vegan:

  • Traditional simple syrup is vegan-friendly as it's made from sugar and water. However, if you're substituting with honey syrup, remember honey isn't vegan. Instead, opt for agave nectar or maple syrup as a vegan sweetener substitute.
  • Egg White Substitute: If you're vegan and still want the frothiness, use aquafaba (chickpea water). It works surprisingly well as a frothing agent.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
168
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
0.1
g
0
%
Saturated Fat
 
0.01
g
0
%
Sodium
 
60
mg
3
%
Carbohydrates
 
13
g
4
%
Fiber
 
0.1
g
0
%
Sugar
 
12
g
13
%
Potassium
 
89
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
%

 

Vodka Sour Cocktail Drink

Vodka Sour Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
Jump to Video
Using vodka, zesty lemon juice, and simple syrup, this refreshing cocktail is a must-try for any gathering.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 168

Ingredients
 

  • oz Vodka
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 1 egg white - for frothiness, optional
  • 2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon slice or cherry - for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Shaker
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Old Fashioned Glass or Coupe Glass
  • Strainer

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Fill up an old fashioned glass with ice cubes to chill it.
  • Add Angostura Bitters: Add 2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters to the shaker.
  • Add Egg White: If you're using it, add 1 egg white for frothiness.
  • Add Simple Syrup: Add ½ oz simple syrup to the mix.
  • Add Lemon Juice: Measure and pour 1 oz fresh lemon juice into the mix.
  • Add Vodka: Pour 1½ oz Vodka into the mix.
  • Shake Vigorously: Close the shaker and shake the mixture thoroughly.
  • Prep Shaker: Fill your cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  • Shake again: Shake for about 15-20 seconds one more time.
  • Strain and Pour: Pour the mixture over fresh ice into the Old Fashioned glass or Coupe Glass using the strainer.
  • Garnish: Place a lemon slice or cherry into the glass for garnish.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Vodka: Gin makes an interesting swap if you're out of vodka. I've tried it, and the botanicals from the gin add a unique twist to the traditional Vodka Sour. Another option? White rum. It lends a sweeter profile to the drink.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh is always best, but bottled lemon juice can suffice in a pinch. Adjust the simple syrup to taste since bottled versions might be tart.
  • Simple Syrup: Honey syrup or agave nectar are excellent alternatives. They both add a slightly different sweetness and flavor profile.

Making a Pitcher of Vodka Sour:

  • Scale: To prepare a pitcher that serves 8, you'll need 12 oz of vodka, 8 oz of fresh lemon juice, and 4 oz of simple syrup.
  • Mix: Combine the vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a large pitcher. Stir until well mixed.
  • Serve: Pour the drink into ice-filled glasses, add garnish, and enjoy with friends.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Vodka Substitute: Seek out a non-alcoholic spirit or vodka alternative. Some brands on the market replicate the bite and clarity of vodka without the alcohol.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use the non-alcoholic substitute instead of vodka and follow the original steps for a refreshing non-alcoholic Vodka Sour.

Making it Vegan:

  • Traditional simple syrup is vegan-friendly as it's made from sugar and water. However, if you're substituting with honey syrup, remember honey isn't vegan. Instead, opt for agave nectar or maple syrup as a vegan sweetener substitute.
  • Egg White Substitute: If you're vegan and still want the frothiness, use aquafaba (chickpea water). It works surprisingly well as a frothing agent.

 

What is a Vodka Sour?

Vodka Sour is a vodka-based cocktail that blends vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup. While it carries the simplicity of its ingredients, its popularity stems from the perfect balance it strikes on the palate. You might often find it garnished with a lemon slice or cherry, enhancing its visual appeal at gatherings. Like its name suggests, the “sour” points to its primary flavor profile, though the sugar beautifully offsets it. Anyone can appreciate a Vodka Sour, whether you’re new to cocktails or have been enjoying them for years.

A Vodka Sour, shot from above on a beige table with orange wedges on the side

What is a Vodka Sour made of – The ingredients

A Vodka Sour calls for these simple ingredients:

  • Vodka: The primary spirit that forms the drink’s base, providing the kick and clarity.
  • Lemon Juice: Adds tartness and brightness, offering that characteristic “sour” taste.
  • Simple Syrup: A mixture of sugar and water; it balances the sourness from the lemon, adding sweetness to the cocktail. 
  • Egg White (optional): Adds frothiness for a creamy texture. 
  • Angostura Bitters: Contributes aromatic elements and subtle bitterness, enhancing the overall depth of the cocktail.
  • Ice: Chills the drink, ensuring it’s served cold and refreshing.
  • Garnish (optional, like lemon slice or cherry): Elevates the visual appeal and can add a subtle complementary flavor.

Vodka, Angostura Bitters, Simple Syrup and an egg laid out on a white bar table

How do you make a Vodka Sour?

Craft a Vodka Sour effortlessly with our easy instructions:

1
<p>Fill your old-fashioned glass with ice cubes to chill it.</p>

Fill your old-fashioned glass with ice cubes to chill it.

2
<p>Drop in a shaker 2 dashes of Angostura bitters to deepen the flavor profile and add aromatic complexity.</p>

Drop in a shaker 2 dashes of Angostura bitters to deepen the flavor profile and add aromatic complexity.

3
<p>If you’re using it, add an egg white to give the drink a frothy texture.</p>

If you’re using it, add an egg white to give the drink a frothy texture.

4
<p>Incorporate simple syrup to add a touch of sweetness.</p>

Incorporate simple syrup to add a touch of sweetness.

5
<p>Add fresh lemon juice to the shaker, introducing the sour element.</p>

Add fresh lemon juice to the shaker, introducing the sour element.

6
<p>Pour vodka into the shaker, using it as the foundational spirit for the cocktail.</p>

Pour vodka into the shaker, using it as the foundational spirit for the cocktail.

7
<p>Secure the lid on the shaker and shake the mixture vigorously for about 15 seconds, ensuring all ingredients blend well.</p>

Secure the lid on the shaker and shake the mixture vigorously for about 15 seconds, ensuring all ingredients blend well.

8
<p>Ice up the shaker.</p>

Ice up the shaker.

9
<p>Shake again to chill your drink.</p>

Shake again to chill your drink.

10
<p>Strain the concoction into an Old Fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.</p>

Strain the concoction into an Old Fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.

11
<p>Optionally, garnish the drink with a lemon slice or cherry for visual appeal and a hint of flavor.</p>

Optionally, garnish the drink with a lemon slice or cherry for visual appeal and a hint of flavor.

12
<p>Enjoy your Vodka Sour!</p>

Enjoy your Vodka Sour!

Vodka Sour at a Bar

Ordering a Vodka Sour at a bar is always a solid choice. It’s a drink that bartenders respect for its classic roots and straightforward ingredients. While some might lean towards the latest ways of making the drink or using complex mixtures, there’s an elegance in sticking to the basics.

A side shot of a Vodka Sour cocktail in an Old Fashioned glass with two orange wedges on the side

No Egg Vodka Sour

While many sour cocktails incorporate egg white for a frothy finish, the beauty of the Vodka Sour lies in its adaptability. You’re lucky if you’re not into eggs or prefer a cleaner, crisper drink. By ditching the egg white, the Vodka Sour leans into its refreshing nature, letting the sharpness of the lemon and the subtle sweetness of the syrup shine. The result? A straightforward, bright cocktail that’s both zesty and smooth, proving that sometimes, less truly is more.

Variations

Looking for other choices? We share some of our top ones.

  • Vodka Sour with Egg White: This blend stands out with its frothy texture due to the inclusion of egg white. The egg white creates a creamy mouthfeel, adding a unique layer to the classic sour base. Personally, I enjoy the smoothness the egg white brings; it elevates the drink from just refreshing to a more sophisticated experience.
  • Lemon Drop Martini: This is a zesty and sweet offering, featuring a balance of tart lemon and sweetness, often with a sugared rim for an added touch of elegance. The vibrant lemon flavor is something I particularly appreciate; it brings a refreshing and lively character that makes it a perfect choice for a summer evening.
  • Seabreeze Cocktail: This blend combines the tartness of grapefruit juice with the sweetness of cranberry juice, offering a harmonious mix of flavors. The grapefruit’s tangy profile is balanced beautifully by the cranberry’s sweetness, creating a drink that’s both refreshing and delightful.
  • Vodka Gimlet: Known for its simplicity, this blend is a harmonious mix of vodka and lime, offering a tart and slightly sweet taste. It’s a classic, straightforward choice that showcases the crisp, clean flavors of its few ingredients.
  • Cherry Vodka Sour: This mix brings a fruity twist to the traditional sour, infusing the tangy base with the sweet, rich flavor of cherry. The addition of cherry adds a depth and complexity that I find particularly enjoyable, creating a delightful balance between tart and sweet.
  • Vodka Mojito: This twist replaces rum with vodka, adding a different dimension to the classic mojito’s refreshing qualities. It blends fresh mint and lime with vodka, creating a light, invigorating taste that’s perfect for a hot day.
  • Lavender Vodka Cocktail: This variant introduces the elegant and calming notes of lavender, combined with the crispness of vodka. The lavender not only adds a lovely aroma but also imparts a gentle, soothing undertone that I find particularly appealing. The way lavender’s floral essence complements the sharpness of vodka creates a relaxing and almost therapeutic sip.

A Vodka Sour cocktail on a beige table with two orange wedges on the side

History and Origin

Much like many classic cocktails, the history of the Vodka Sour intertwines with the broader narrative of sour cocktails. Here’s a brief exploration of its origins:

The “sour” as a drink category emerged in the 19th century. These beverages typically combine a spirit, a sour component (like lemon or lime juice), and a sweetener. The Whiskey Sour, for instance, gained popularity in the late 1800s, and early documentation of its recipe appears in the 1862 book, “The Bartender’s Guide,” by Jerry Thomas.

As the sour category flourished, bartenders began experimenting with different base spirits. Given vodka’s rising popularity in the United States during the mid-20th century, especially post-World War II, it was natural to find its way into the sour mix. Vodka’s neutral profile made it versatile for various mixers and cocktails. Its introduction into the sour family was an extension of this trend.

The Vodka Sour has no pinpointed origin or a singular legendary bartender behind its creation. Instead, its emergence represents the broader movement of vodka becoming a staple in American bars and households. As vodka brands increased and its market presence solidified, the Vodka Sour became one of the many drinks enthusiasts and bartenders enjoyed for its simplicity and balance.

 

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FAQ

How many calories are typically in a Vodka Sour?
A standard Vodka Sour contains approximately 150-200 calories, depending on the specific ingredients and their quantities.
How strong is a Vodka Sour in terms of alcohol content?
The strength of a Vodka Sour usually hovers around 20-25% ABV (Alcohol By Volume), which equates to 40-50 proof, given the dilution from other ingredients.
What type of alcohol is used in a Vodka Sour?
As the name suggests, vodka is the primary alcohol.
In which type of glass is a Vodka Sour typically served?
Traditionally it's served in an Old Fashioned or rocks glass.
What does a Vodka Sour taste like?
A Vodka Sour offers a balanced flavor profile with the crispness of vodka, the tartness of lemon juice, and the sweetness of simple syrup.
What's the typical ratio of ingredients in a Vodka Sour?
The classic ratio is 2 parts vodka, 1 part lemon juice, and 1 part simple syrup.
How is the Vodka Sour typically served with ice?
It is commonly served over ice, which means the cocktail is poured over ice cubes in the serving glass.

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