Sour (cocktail)

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Whiskey sour.jpg
A whiskey sour garnished with a wheel of lemon and maraschino cherries.
TypeCocktail family
Common alcohol(s)
NotesSee the article for specifics.

A sour is a traditional family of mixed drinks. Common examples of sours are the margarita and the sidecar. Sours belong to one of the old families of original cocktails and are described by Jerry Thomas in his 1862 book How to Mix Drinks.[1]

Sours are mixed drinks containing a base liquor, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener (triple sec, simple syrup, grenadine, or pineapple juice are common).[2] Egg whites are also included in some sours.

List of sours[edit]

Gin sour[edit]

The gin sour is a traditional mixed cocktail that predates prohibition in the United States. It is a simple combination of gin, lemon juice, and sugar. Adding carbonated water to this turns it into a gin fizz.

It was popular during the 1940s, and Kevin Starr includes it in "an array of drinks (the gin sour, the whiskey sour, the Gin Rickey, the Tom Collins, the Pink Lady, the Old Fashioned) that now seem period pieces, evocative of another era."[1]

White Lady[edit]

White Lady
IBA official cocktail
White Lady - Beefeater gin, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice (12403540403).jpg
Primary alcohol by volume
ServedStraight up; without ice
Standard drinkware
Cocktail Glass (Martini).svg
Cocktail glass
IBA specified
PreparationAdd all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into large cocktail glass.
TimingAll Day
NotesThis cocktail is a variant of the Sidecar
dagger White Lady recipe at International Bartenders Association

White Lady (also known as a Delilah,[5] or Chelsea Side-car[5]) is essentially a sidecar made with gin in place of brandy. What makes it different from the simple gin sour is the switching of sugar for triple sec. The cocktail sometimes also includes additional ingredients, for example egg white, sugar, or cream.

The classic concoction is most commonly served in a Martini cocktail glass. When an egg white is added a champagne coupe is preferable; the silky foam clings more pleasingly to the curved glass.

It is disputed who originally invented the drink. There are at least two different opinions: first that it was devised by Harry MacElhone in 1919 at Ciro's Club in London. He originally used crème de menthe, but replaced it with gin at Harry's New York Bar in Paris in 1929.[6]

But The Savoy's Harry Craddock also claims the White Lady (gin, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice). The recipe appears in his Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930.[7] Joe Gilmore, former Head Barman at The Savoy, says this was one of Laurel and Hardy's favorite drinks.[8]

In John le Carré's 1965 novel The Looking Glass War, British spy and main protagonist Fred Leiser's favorite drink is a White Lady, and he makes several attempts to get other agents to try the cocktail.

In Dorothy Sayers' mystery novel Have His Carcase Lord Peter has a White Lady when he hears about his "Lady" Miss Harriet Vane being in trouble again.

Pisco sour[edit]

The classic Pisco Sour recipe contains pisco brandy (usually an un-aged grape brandy from Chile and Perú), fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, and bitters.[9] It is shaken, strained, and served straight in a cocktail glass then garnished with the bitters (cinnamon can be used). The addition of egg white creates a foamy head when shaken before serving.[10] While pisco sour is flavoured with key lime by default, pisco is combined with other fruit to create mango sour, maracuya (passion fruit) sour, lucuma sour and so forth.[11] Peru has a National Pisco Sour Day (which lasts a weekend) in mid-February,[12] and Chile has Pisco Day in mid-May.

Whiskey sour[edit]

The whiskey sour is a mixed drink containing bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, and optionally a dash of egg white to make it a Boston Sour. It is shaken and served either straight or over ice. The traditional garnish is half an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

A notable variant of the whiskey sour is the Ward 8, which often is based with either bourbon or rye whiskey, both lemon and orange juices, and grenadine syrup as the sweetener. The egg white sometimes employed in other whiskey sours is generally not included in this variation.

Other sours[edit]

  • Amaretto Sour: Amaretto liqueur, lemon juice and sometimes egg white, bitters or sugar syrup.[13]
  • Brandy Sour or Brandy Daisy (Jerry Thomas, 1887): brandy, clear or orange curaçao, sugar, lemon juice, shaken and strained into a wine glass.
  • Caipirinha: Cachaça, sugar, lime, ice in an Old Fashioned glass.
  • Cypriot Brandy Sour: Cyprus brandy, lemon cordial and bitters, stirred in a tall glass, and topped with soda or lemonade.
  • Midori Sour: Honeydew melon liquor, grenadine, lemon juice. Poured properly, it resembles a green Tequila Sunrise with visible layers.
  • Santa Cruz Sour (Jerry Thomas, 1887): Santa Cruz rum, sugar, lemon juice, shaken and strained into a wine glass.
  • Tequila Sour: Tequila, lemon juice, lime juice, agave nectar, Bittercube Corazon bitters, egg white.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jacques Barzun, 2001 (reprint), Mr. Dooley in Peace and in War, University of Illinois, ISBN 0-252-07029-1. Originally published by Small, Maynard and Co., 1898. Collected from newspaper columns. Online sources cite 1897 as the year of this particular quotation.
  2. ^ Kevin Starr, 2002, "Embattled Dreams: California in War and Peace, 1940–1950 (Americans and the California Dream)", Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-512437-5, A9 page image
  3. ^ Tom Bullock, 1917, The Ideal Bartender. Project Gutenberg eBook. The directions "½ Lime Juice" and "½ Orange Juice" are as given in the source and presumably refer to the juice of half a lime and half an orange, respectively.


  1. ^ Paul Clarke. Make Yourself Comfortable. September 25, 2005. The Cocktail Chronicles. Retrieved on January 1, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Regan, Gary (2003). The Joy of Mixology, The Consummate Guide to the Bartender's Craft. Clarkson Potter. pp. 158–159. ISBN 0609608843.
  3. ^ Regan, Gary (2003). The Joy of Mixology, The Consummate Guide to the Bartender's Craft. Clarkson Potter. p. 275. ISBN 0609608843.
  4. ^ a b Regan, Gary (2003). The Joy of Mixology, The Consummate Guide to the Bartender's Craft. Clarkson Potter. pp. 160–162. ISBN 0609608843.
  5. ^ a b Colleen Graham (15 November 2016). "Delilah Cocktail or White Lady Cocktail Gin Recipe". the spruce. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  6. ^ "Drink Recipe - White Lady". Archived from the original on February 8, 2007.
  7. ^ 101 cocktails that shook the world: #5: The White Lady | Independent, The (London) | Find Articles at
  8. ^ The Savoy: Checking into History" Channel 4 TV UK
  9. ^ Navarro, V. Classic Pisco Sour LA Speakeasy
  10. ^ Pisco Sour recipe at DrinkBoy
  11. ^, Redacción (December 6, 2013). "Maracuya sour: Qué necesitas y cómo se prepara este exquisito trago". Perú.com.
  12. ^ "Todas las noticias de Día del Pisco Sour". El Comercio.
  13. ^ "Amaretto Sour". Difford's Guide. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Tequila Sour". Awesome Drinks.

External links[edit]