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Here's a bourbon sour recipe that's perfectly balanced with the right ratio of spirit, citrus, and sugar. It has that refreshing sweet-tart taste and silky mouth feel we're after in a classic sour. It's easy to make with a handful of ingredients, and it's ready in just 5 minutes!
A bourbon sour is a classic drink that needs no introduction. It's well-known for its perfectly balanced sweet-tart taste, simple ingredients, and simple preparation. While it's straightforward, the proportions are important to get the taste just right.
A classic sour combines two parts spirit, one part sweet, and one part sour ingredients. For this bourbon sour recipe, we use good quality bourbon, simple syrup, and fresh lemon juice.
We also use a few drops of cocktail foamer to give this cocktail the bubbly mouth feel we're after. You can use an egg white instead, or even omit it completely and it will still taste great.
To make it, just shake all the ingredients together until foamy and then strain it into a rocks glass. The classic garnishes are an orange wheel and a maraschino or cocktail cherry.
A bourbon sour is our go-to drink for happy hour, laid-back gatherings, game nights, and everything in between. Learn this classic cocktail recipe and you can make any occasion special!
Bourbon sour vs. whiskey sour
Bourbon is actually just a category of whiskey, so all bourbon sours are whiskey sours. On the other hand, not all whiskey sours are bourbon sours.
Bourbon tends to be a bit sweeter whereas whiskey has a sharp taste that varies widely. If you're already a fan of the whiskey sour cocktail, a bourbon version is a must-try!
The type of whiskey or bourbon you choose will undoubtedly influence the taste of the drink, so choose what you enjoy. If you're not sure, play around with a few different varieties until you land your signature whiskey sour!
What's in a bourbon sour?
You only need five simple ingredients to make a bourbon sour. Here's everything you need:
- Bourbon – there's no need to pull out the really fancy stuff because a decent quality bourbon will make a nice cocktail. Bourbon has a natural sweetness that plays so well with the other ingredients in this classic drink. You can also use whiskey or rye whiskey.
- Lemon juice – as with all cocktails, fresh lemon juice is a must.
- Simple syrup – classic simple syrup mixes well into this drink and adds a touch of sweetness.
- Cocktail foamer (or an egg white) – cocktail foamer (or egg white) is optional and a bourbon sour still tastes very good without it. Cocktail foamer is an egg-free ingredient that gives drinks a foamy mouth feel.
- Maraschino cherry and an orange slice – for garnish.
How to make a bourbon sour
Making a bourbon sour is really simple, and it all comes down to using the right ratio of spirit, citrus, and sweetener. The cocktail foamer or egg white is optional, but gives the drink a silky mouth feel. Let's make one!
- Add the ingredients to the cocktail shaker half full with ice cubes.
- Shake, shake, shake until there's lots of foam (you can just stir it with ice if you're skipping the cocktail foamer or egg white).
- Strain the cocktail into a glass and garnish. If you'd like to add a few drops of aromatic bitters, go for it. Cheers!
How to make a quick simple syrup
Traditional simple syrup is made from two parts water, and one part sugar (2:1 ratio). Follow these steps to make one cup of simple syrup:
- Heat two cups of water with one cup of sugar on the stove over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Allow it to cool, then transfer it to a glass jar or container and store it in your fridge.
Best bourbon for a whiskey sour
There's no denying that a decent quality bourbon makes a great drink, but there's no need to pull out your fancy stuff. We use Bulleit bourbon, a mid-range Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey that's subtly complex, dry, and clean but won't break the bank.
When to serve a bourbon sour
A bourbon sour is a classy drink you can enjoy anytime! Its refreshing sweet-tart taste makes it a great choice for happy hour, holidays, dinner parties, or as a nightcap.
What is cocktail foamer?
Cocktail foamer is an easy-to-use ingredient that gives cocktails creaminess without the mess! It's perfect if you're avoiding raw eggs, but you can also use a classic egg white to make it foamy. Or you can skip it; a bourbon sour is great even without the foam.
Can I make a bourbon sour without a foamy top?
Yes! If you're not using cocktail foamer or an egg white, you can just stir the ingredients together with ice and strain it into glasses.
Can you make a whiskey sour with bourbon?
Yes! Whiskey and bourbon can be used interchangeably in this cocktail recipe.
What about aquafaba? Can I use it instead of cocktail foamer?
Aquafaba is chickpea water, the water from a can of chickpeas. It can be substituted in place of eggs in vegan cooking and cocktail making. To use it to make a foamy cocktail, add 2 tablespoons of aquafaba to the cocktail shaker with the rest of the ingredients and shake until it's foamy.
I'm trying to avoid sugar. Can I use something instead of simple syrup?
Yes definitely! You can swap the simple syrup for agave, maple syrup, or honey simple syrup. We find maple and bourbon pair really well together.
Can I make it ahead of time?
You can mix the bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup together in advance but wait until you're ready to serve it to shake it with ice.
- 2 ounces good-quality bourbon
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup (see notes)
- 1-2 drop cocktail foamer (or an egg white) (optional)
- Marachino cherry and an orange slice (to garnish)
- Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice and add the bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and if using, cocktail foamer.2 ounces good-quality bourbon, 1 ounce lemon juice, 1 ounce simple syrup, 1-2 drop cocktail foamer (or an egg white)
- Shake for at least 30 seconds – until there is lots of foam. (If you're not using foamer, simply stir until it's cold.)
- Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry and an orange slice.Marachino cherry and an orange slice
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.