Sour cocktail on a table

Sweet on Sour: Exploring the Tangy World of Sour Cocktails

Sour cocktails bring together the best of both worlds with recipes that mix the sweet with the sour. You’ll find all sorts of types, from the classic Whiskey Sour to new spins on this beloved drink.

Sour cocktails are a drink category that typically contain a base spirit, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener. Combining the citrus’s tartness and the sweetener’s sweetness creates a balanced and refreshing drink. The basic classic formula for a sour cocktail is:

  • Base spirit (e.g., whiskey, rum, gin, tequila, etc.)
  • Citrus juice (usually lemon or lime)
  • Sweetener (e.g., simple syrup, sugar, or other sweet liqueurs)

The sour formula can be adapted to many different spirits and flavors, leading to a wide variety of sour cocktails. The key here is to strike the right balance between the sour and sweet components to create a harmonious and palatable drink.

In addition to the basic ingredients, many sour drinks include an optional but popular component: egg whites. When shaken vigorously, egg whites add a luxurious frothiness to the drink, creating a silky texture and a visually appealing layer of foam on top. 

Sour mixed drinks also lend themselves beautifully to fruity adaptations. At Drinks World, we often incorporate fresh fruit purees, muddled fruits, or vibrant fruit liqueurs to introduce new flavors and colors.

30 Classic Sour Cocktail & Drink Recipes

Whiskey Sour

A side shot of a Whiskey Sour cocktail in a Old Fashioned glass with some oranges in the background.

 

This drink mixes tangy lemon, sweet sugar, and rich whiskey. It’s like a splash of sunshine in your glass. If you shake it with an egg white, you get a smooth Boston Sour. Top it with a little red wine, and you’ve made a New York Sour. It’s a classic drink that’s both refreshing and bold.

Rum Sour

A side shot of a Rum Sour cocktail in a rocks glass on a white table with a white cloth, a jigger and a shaker around.

Think of sipping a drink on a beach. That’s the Rum Sour. It’s rum, lemon or lime juice, and sugar mixed together. It tastes like a tropical holiday. Add a bit of orange liqueur, and you’ve got a Rum Daisy. It’s a simple, flexible drink that can feel fancy or casual.

Gin Sour

The Gin Sour is a fresh, zesty drink. It combines the herbal taste of gin with the sharpness of lemon and a hint of sugar. It’s like a morning walk in a garden, but in a drink. Make it fizzy by adding soda water, and it becomes a Gin Fizz. For a flowery twist, mix in some elderflower liqueur, and you have an Elderflower Gin Sour. This drink is classy and straightforward.

Aperol Sour

This drink stirs together the sweet, tangy taste of Aperol with the sharpness of lemon juice and just enough sugar to sweeten the deal. If you pour in some soda water, you’ve just made a bubbly version called the Aperol Spritz Sour. It’s like a laugh in a glass with a sparkle.

Amaretto Sour

A side shot of an Amaretto Sour cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a wooden coaster with a bar spoon on the side placed on a turquoise table and in front of a yellow wall..

Mixing the nutty flavor of Amaretto with the tartness of lemon juice and sugar gives you the Amaretto Sour. When you add some orange juice, it becomes the Amaretto Stone Sour. This version is like a sweet, fruity hug that delights your taste buds with every sip.

Tequila Sour

The Tequila Sour is a lively blend of bold tequila and sharp lemon juice, smoothed over with a little sugar. Rim the glass with salt, and you’ve got a Salty Tequila Sour. It’s a playful mix that gives you a cheerful burst of flavor with a salty edge.

Mezcal Sour

For the Mezcal Sour, you shake up the smoky taste of Mezcal with the zing of lemon juice and a touch of sugar. Add a slice of jalapeño, and you’ve turned it into a Jalapeño Mezcal Sour. This spicy twist is like a smoky whisper that suddenly turns into an exciting shout.

Vodka Sour

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

Pour vodka, lemon juice, and a bit of sugar into a shaker, and you get a Vodka Sour. It’s a crisp and refreshing drink. If you drop in some flavored syrup, like raspberry or blackcurrant, you’ve created a Flavored Vodka Sour. It’s like a cool breeze with a dash of sweet fruitiness.

Pisco Sour

A side shot of a Pisco Sour cocktail in a old fashioned glass on a coaster placed on a white marmol table with a lemon and a straw on the side

The Pisco Sour is a smooth blend of Pisco, which is a grape brandy from South America, mixed with lemon juice, sugar, and often an egg white. Shake it up until it’s frothy, and you’ve got yourself a classic Pisco Sour. It’s like a soft, citrus cloud in a glass. Some people add bitters on top for an extra pop of flavor, creating what’s simply known as a Bitters-topped Pisco Sour.

Margarita

A side shot of a Margarita cocktail in a coupe glass on a black stone plate placed on a blue table surrounded by lime wedges and on a pink background colour.

A Margarita combines tequila with lime juice and orange liqueur. Serve it on the rocks, blend it with ice, or shake it up for a straight-up version. It’s a party in a glass with a salty rim. Make it with different fruit like strawberry or mango, and you’ve got a Fruit Margarita. It’s like a festive fruit fiesta with a tequila twist.

Tommy’s Margarita

A side shot of a Tommy's Margarita cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a white coaster placed on a green cloth on a white table with a jigger and a shaker around and blurred background.

Take the classic Margarita, skip the orange liqueur, and add more lime juice and agave syrup, and you’ve made Tommy’s Margarita. It’s a simpler, purer take on the original. It’s like a smooth, sweet-and-sour tequila hug that leaves out the extra frills.

Sidecar

A side shot of a Sidecar cocktail in a cocktail glass on a wooden board placed on a white marmol table with a red cloth, four sugar cubes, two lemons, a jigger, and a shaker around.

 

To make a Sidecar, you shake together brandy, lemon juice, and orange liqueur. This drink is like a warm, citrusy handshake – friendly and a bit sophisticated. It’s often served with a sugared rim, which adds a sweet sparkle to every sip. It’s a classic cocktail that’s smooth and has just the right amount of sweetness and tang.

Paloma

A side shot of a Paloma cocktail in a highball glass on a brown coaster placed on a light blue table surrounded by a jigger, a straw and a half grapefruit.

The Paloma is a refreshing mix of tequila and grapefruit soda. It’s like a fizzy, citrus burst of sunshine in your glass. Some people like to add a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lime to bring out the flavors even more. It’s a popular drink that’s both thirst-quenching and easy to make, perfect for a hot day.

Mojito

A side shot of a Mojito cocktail in a highball glass on a white marmol table with half of a lime on the side

A Mojito is a cool, minty cocktail that combines white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and fresh mint leaves. You gently muddle the mint to release its flavor, which is like a refreshing whisper in this bubbly, sweet drink. It’s like a sparkling minty kiss that’s both invigorating and smooth. The Mojito is a beloved drink for its refreshing qualities and its balance of sweetness with herbal freshness.

Daiquiri

A side shot of a Daiquiri cocktail in a coupe glass on a black stone plate placed on a blue table with two half miles in front and a shaker, a jigger and a basket with limes on the background.

To whip up a Daiquiri, you blend white rum, lime juice, and sugar. It’s a simple, clean-tasting drink that’s both sharp and sweet, like a quick tropical getaway. You can blend it with ice for a frozen Daiquiri or serve it straight up. Some people add strawberries or other fruits to create a fruity Daiquiri, which turns the drink into a sweet, tangy fruit party in your mouth.

Gin Fizz

A side shot of a Gin Fizz cocktail in a highball glass on a beige table with a bowl full of lemons behind.

A Gin Fizz is a bubbly blend of gin, lemon juice, sugar, and soda water. It’s like a sparkling lemonade with a gin kick. When you shake it up until it’s frothy and pour it into a glass, it feels like a fizzy celebration. Some people add an egg white to make it a Silver Fizz, which gives it a silky texture that’s smooth as it goes down.

Tom Collins

A side shot of a Tom Collins cocktail in a Highball glass on a stone plate placed on a marmol table, with a shaker, a jigger, an orange and a bar spoon in the background

The Tom Collins is a friendly, easy-going drink made with gin, lemon juice, sugar, and soda water, served in a tall glass with plenty of ice. It’s like a Gin Fizz’s taller cousin, with a laid-back vibe. It’s the kind of drink that’s perfect for sipping on a sunny afternoon, refreshing and straightforward.

Gimlet

A side shot of a Gimlet cocktail in a coupe glass on a black stone coaster placed on a black table with lime pieces, a bar spoon, three sugar cubes, and a white cloth around, in front of a red wall.

For a Gimlet, you stir together gin and lime cordial. It’s a sharp, tangy drink with a touch of sweetness. It’s like a zesty whisper in a glass – simple, yet bold. The Gimlet is often served straight up, and it’s known for its no-fuss, clean taste that lime lovers appreciate.

French 75

A side shot of a French 75 cocktail in a champagne flute on a wooden coaster placed on a wooden tray surrounded by a jigger, a bar spoon and a white cloth

The French 75 is a classy cocktail that combines gin, lemon juice, sugar, and Champagne. It’s like a toast with a twist, where the gin and lemon mix with the celebratory fizz of Champagne. It’s a sophisticated drink that feels like a festive occasion in every sip. Some people make it with cognac instead of gin, which adds a deeper, warmer flavor.

White Lady

A side shot of a White Lady cocktail in a coupe glass on a red cloth placed on a wooden tray on top of a white table with a jigger, a bar spoon, a lemon and a yellow cloth around.

The White Lady is a smooth cocktail that shakes together gin, orange liqueur, and lemon juice. It’s a crisp and refreshing mix with a citrus kick. When you strain it into a glass, it’s like a sip of elegance. It’s pale and inviting, with a balance of sweet and sour that dances on your tongue.

Southside

A side shot of a Southside cocktail in a martini glass on a wooden coaster placed on a wooden tray with a cigar, a green cloth and a beige cloth around.

A Southside combines gin, lime juice, sugar, and mint. It’s like a Mojito’s cousin with a gin twist. You gently muddle the mint to wake up its freshness, then shake it with the rest of the ingredients. It’s a refreshing, minty drink that feels like a cool breeze on a warm day. It’s often served up or on the rocks, making it versatile for any season.

Cosmopolitan

A side shot of a Cosmopolitan cocktail in a martini glass on a white marmol table with two orange slices on the side.

The Cosmopolitan, or Cosmo, is a chic cocktail made with vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice, and a splash of lime. It’s a bright, tangy drink with a touch of sweetness and a vibrant pink color. Shaking these ingredients and pouring them into a glass makes for a drink that’s as stylish as it is tasty. It’s like a burst of cosmopolitan life in every sip.

Lemon Drop Martini

A side shot of a Lemon Drop Martini cocktail in a martini glass on a square wooden coaster placed on a green table and two lemon behind

For a Lemon Drop Martini, you shake vodka, lemon juice, and sugar, and serve it in a sugar-rimmed glass. It’s a sweet and sour cocktail that’s like a grown-up version of the classic lemon drop candy. It’s both refreshing and indulgent, with a sugary rim that makes every sip a treat.

Pomegranate Martini

The Pomegranate Martini is a vibrant drink that mixes vodka with pomegranate juice and a splash of orange liqueur. It’s a fruity and slightly tart cocktail with a rich red color that looks as good as it tastes. When you shake these ingredients with ice and strain them into a chilled glass, you get a drink that’s both refreshing and a little bit exotic.

New York Sour

A side shot of a New York Sour cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a beige cloth with a lemon on a side placed on a table.

The New York Sour is a bold twist on the classic Whiskey Sour. You start with whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar, then shake them up and pour over ice. But here’s the fun part: you float a layer of red wine on top. This adds a fruity depth to the drink. 

Boston Sour

A Boston Sour takes the traditional Whiskey Sour to the next level by adding an egg white. When you shake whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, and the egg white together, the egg white gives the drink a frothy, creamy top. It’s like the classic sour’s richer, smoother cousin

Flower Power Sour

The Flower Power Sour is a delightful twist on a sour cocktail that often includes a floral gin or a splash of elderflower liqueur, along with the usual lemon juice and sugar. Sometimes, bartenders add a dash of violet liqueur for color and a floral note. 

Clover Club Cocktail

A side shot of a Cover Club cocktail in a cocktail glass on a white marmol table surrounded by fresh raspberries, two lemons, a plant and a shaker, in front of a pink wall.

The Clover Club Cocktail is a classic drink that combines gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup, and an egg white. When you shake these ingredients together, the egg white makes the drink frothy and smooth. It’s a pretty pink drink that tastes like a sweet, tart berry patch in a glass. It’s got a vintage charm that takes you back to the old-timey days of fancy saloons.

Kamikaze

A side shot of a Kamikaze cocktail in a martini glass on a wooden coaster placed on a green table with a lime wedge and a lime slice in front and a yellow wall on the background.

The Kamikaze is a sharp and tangy cocktail made with vodka, triple sec, and lime juice. You shake them together with ice and strain into a glass for a drink that’s as straightforward as it is bold. It’s like a zesty lime punch that wakes up all your senses. It’s often served as a shot, making it a fun, quick drink for a night out with friends.

Gold Rush Cocktail

A side shot of a Gold Rush cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a wooden board surrounded by a strainer, two lemon pieces, a shaker, and a white striped cloth

The Gold Rush Cocktail is a sweet and smooth mix of bourbon, lemon juice, and honey syrup. Mixing these together creates a rich, golden drink that’s like a warm blanket on a chilly evening. It’s got the kick of bourbon softened by the sweetness of honey, making it a comforting yet exciting drink to savor.

Non-Alcoholic Sour Cocktails

Non-alcoholic sour cocktails, often called “mocktails,” replicate the tangy and sweet flavors of their alcoholic counterparts without the inclusion of spirits. We’ve made an overview of some well-known non-alcoholic sour cocktails:

  • Virgin Whiskey Sour – This is made with non-alcoholic whiskey flavoring, lemon juice, and simple syrup, often shaken with ice and garnished with a cherry or an orange slice.
  •  No-Tequila Margarita – A blend of lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, and agave syrup, served over ice with a salted rim.
  • Non-Alcoholic Amaretto Sour – Using almond extract, lemon juice, and simple syrup to mimic the nutty and tart flavor of a traditional Amaretto Sour.
  • Virgin Pisco Sour – A mocktail version that uses a combination of lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white (or aquafaba for a vegan option) shaken until frothy, without the Pisco.
  • Lime Rickey – Simply lime juice, simple syrup, and soda water mixed together for a refreshing, tart drink.
  • Virgin Tom Collins – Made with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, and garnished with a cherry and a slice of lemon.
  • Non-Alcoholic Gin Sour – Utilizing non-alcoholic gin alternatives, mixed with lemon juice and simple syrup to create a mock version of the classic Gin Sour.
  • Sparkling Lemonade – While not traditionally called a sour cocktail, it fits the profile with its combination of lemon juice, sugar, and sparkling water.

More Cocktail Recipes

You can find more great cocktail recipes and easy mixed drinks on DrinksWorld. Here are some more of our collections:

Simple Sour Cocktails: Pisco Sour recipe (and 29 More!)

Shake up your evening with this simple Pisco Sour recipe! It’s a blend of Pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and an egg white that creates a refreshingly tangy cocktail with a silky finish.

Pisco Sour Cocktail Drink

Pisco Sour Recipe

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Make your night memorable with our Pisco Sour recipe! It's a simple mix of Pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white for a drink you'll love.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 231

Ingredients
 

  • 2 oz Pisco
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice cubes
  • 1-2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters - optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Strainer
  • Old Fashioned Glass

Instructions

  • Add Angostura Bitters: Add 1-2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters to the shaker.
  • Add Egg White: Separate 1 egg white and add it to the shaker.
  • Add Simple Syrup: Add 1 oz simple syrup to the mix.
  • Add Lime Juice: Measure and pour 1 oz fresh lime juice into the shaker.
  • Add Pisco: Pour 2 oz Pisco into the shaker.
  • Shake Well: Seal the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds.
  • Prep Shaker: Fill your cocktail shaker with ice cubes and shake again.
  • Shake again: Shake for about 15-20 seconds one more time.
  • Strain: Strain the mixture into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Pisco: A clear grape brandy is a decent substitute if you are still looking for Pisco. I've also used white rum for a different but enjoyable twist.
  • Lime Juice: Fresh lemon juice can replace lime juice but will slightly alter the flavor profile.
  • Simple Syrup: If you're out of simple syrup, you can dissolve sugar in hot water to make your own. A 1:1 ratio of sugar to water works well.

Making a Pitcher:

  • Scale: To serve 8 people, multiply all the ingredients by 8. Combine 16 oz of Pisco, 8 oz of lime juice, 8 oz of simple syrup, and the whites of 8 eggs in a large pitcher.
  • Mix: Use a hand blender to mix all the ingredients until frothy.
  • Serve: Pour the mixture into ice-filled Old Fashioned glasses, garnish with Angostura bitters, and serve immediately.

Driving it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Pisco Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic white grape juice as a substitute for Pisco.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use this non-alcoholic substitute and follow the original steps to enjoy a non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

  • Egg White Substitute: Use aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) as a vegan substitute for egg white. About 1 oz should do the trick.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use aquafaba instead of egg white and follow the original steps for a vegan Pisco Sour.

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