The Gin Sour tickles the tongue with clean flavors that are simultaneously sweet and sour. This classic gin cocktail is also super easy to craft at home in just a few minutes.
Given the popularity of creative cocktails at bars and lounges around the world, It would be easy to forget about the ‘simple as a pimple’ Gin Sour. But that would be a shame.
The Gin Fizz has earned classic status without any fancy ingredients or bonus bits. Plus, it’s as easy to craft a Gin Sour cocktail as it is to sip one.
What Is the Gin Sour Cocktail?
The Gin Sour is a quintessential sour cocktail that’s crafted with gin, lemon juice and simple syrup. While these three ingredients create a balanced cocktail that’s neither too sweet nor too tart, an optional egg white froth completes the drink.
Despite its status as a classic gin cocktail that spans the centuries, the Gin Sour tastes just as refreshing today as ever. It’s one of those drinks that every home bartender could and should know how to craft on demand.
History of the Gin Sour
Some cocktails have origin stories that involve bigger than life figures and exotic destinations. The Gin Sour is not one of those cocktails. In fact, nobody knows exactly when and where the Gin Sour was invented.
What we do know is that sour cocktails gained popularity in the second half of the 19th century. That’s likely when the Gin Sour got its official name and cemented its place in cocktail lore. But the Gin Sour’s history probably goes back further to a time when sailors would add combine gin with sugar and lemon to create palatable drinks in their efforts to prevent scurvy.
Years later, after surviving Prohibition, the classic Gin Sour got a 20th century transformation when bartenders started adding a frothy egg white topper to the drink. Today, this foam is so prevalent that it’s difficult to imagine sipping a Gin Sour without a top layer.
Discover more pre-prohibition cocktails.
Gin Sour Ingredients
As is the case with most classic cocktails, the Gin Sour’s ingredient list is short and sweet with a few required ingredients. We use the following ingredients in our Gin Sour recipe:
You probably have all of these ingredients. If not, you should be able to find them at your local market and/or liquor store.
Since gin is the main ingredient, you may be wondering which is the best gin for the Gin Sour recipe. We recommend using your favorite whether it’s a London dry gin or a more botanical-forward gin. You could even use Genever or Old Tom if you’re a cocktail purist.
We like to use Citadelle dry gin from France to craft this and other gin cocktails. Produced in Cognac, the premium gin features 19 botanicals and has an ABV of 44%.
Discover more gin cocktails.
How to Craft a Gin Sour
Once you gather the necessary ingredients and tools, the first step is to measure the gin, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup. We use a Japanese jigger in this and other cocktail recipes to avoid spillage and ensure accurate measurements.
Immediately pour each liquid into a shaker. Pour the egg white into the same shaker.
Vigorously shake the ingredients without ice for 20 seconds. This process is called a ‘dry shake’ and allows the egg white to emulsify.
Feel free to replace the egg white with aquafaba (i.e. the liquid in every chickpea can) if you follow a vegan diet or are squeamish about ingesting raw egg white. Another option is to skip this step.
Add ice and vigorously shake the cocktail for an additional 20 seconds or until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and chilled.
Strain into a glass of your choice. We like to use a coupe glass but a lowball glass would work well too.
The final step, which is optional, is to decorate the froth with a few drops of aromatic bitters. And, if you’re feeling creative, you can use a toothpick to create a swirled design.
More than just a decoration, these drops enhance the drink’s flavor and aroma. However, your Gin Sour will still taste great if you skip this step.
If you choose to omit the aromatic bitter drops, feel free to add garnishes instead. Garnish options include maraschino cherries and lemon peel.
Gin Sour Drink Alternatives
The Gin Sour is so easy to craft that it may become your go-to sour cocktail to sip at home. Consider crafting the following sour cocktails if you’re feeling experimental:
Discover 10 essential bar tools for the home mixologist.
A Gin Sour cocktail is classic sour cocktail crafted with gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and an optional egg white.
The Gin Sour was probably invented in the United States in the latter half of the 19th century; however, the classic sour cocktail’s exact history is a mystery.
Gin, Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Angostura Bitters (optional), Egg White (optional) and Ice Cubes (for shaking)
The Gin Sour is shaken, not stirred.
The only difference between a Gin Fizz and a Gin Sour is that the Gin Fizz is topped with fizzy water. Both cocktails are crafted with gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white.
Both the Gimlet and Gin Sour are classic sour cocktails. The Gimlet is crafted with gin, lime juice and simple syrup whereas the Gin Sour is crafted with gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white.
Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.
Gin Sour Recipe
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- 1 egg white (optional)
- 3 drops angostura bitters (optional)
- ice cubes
- Combine gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white in a shaker.
- Shake vigorously until the egg white emulsifies – approximately 20 seconds. (Skip this step if you omit the egg white.)
- Add several ice cubes and until the liquids are mixed and chilled – approximately 20 seconds.
- Strain into a coupe glass.
- Use an eye dropper to place three drops on top of the cocktail. (Skip this step if you omit the Angostura bitters.)
- Artfully swirl the three angostura drops with a toothpick. (Skip this step if you omit the angostura bitters.)
- You can use another glass instead of a coupe glass.
- The egg white can be omitted if you're a vegan or uncomfortable with ingesting raw eggs. You can alternatively replace the egg white with aquafaba.
- The aromatic bitters can be omitted. We recommend garnishing this cocktail with a maraschino cherry or lemon twist if you omit the aromatic bitters.
Thirsty For More Gin Cocktails?
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
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Original Publication Date: October 3, 2023