Bourbon Sour Cocktail Recipe

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Bourbon Sour Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Bourbon Sour is a classic cocktail that dates back to the 19th century. It is a variation of the Whiskey Sour, which is believed to have originated in the 1870s. The Bourbon Sour is a popular choice among whiskey enthusiasts and those who enjoy a well-balanced, refreshing cocktail.

  • The Bourbon Sour gained popularity during the Prohibition era, as it helped mask the harsh taste of bootlegged whiskey.
  • It is said to have been a favorite drink of American author Ernest Hemingway.

How Bourbon Sour Tastes?

The Bourbon Sour is a harmonious blend of sweet, sour, and strong flavors. The bourbon provides a robust, oaky backbone, while the lemon juice adds a bright, tangy note. The simple syrup balances the sourness with a touch of sweetness, and the egg white creates a velvety, smooth texture.

Interesting facts about Bourbon Sour

  • The Bourbon Sour is a member of the 'sour' family of cocktails, which includes other classics like the Daiquiri and the Margarita.
  • The use of egg white in the Bourbon Sour is optional, but it adds a rich, creamy texture that many people enjoy.
  • The Bourbon Sour is sometimes garnished with a maraschino cherry and an orange slice, which adds a pop of color and a hint of fruity flavor.



  • The soul of the drink - Bourbon adds warmth, vanilla, and caramel notes. Not just any whiskey will do, as bourbon’s distinct flavor is key. Too little and the sour is weak, too much and it overwhelms.

Alex Green

Lemon juice

  • Sharp and bright - Lemon juice brings the sour to the Bourbon Sour. Freshly squeezed can never be overrated! Less juice mutes the zing, more and it puckers the lips more than a granny's kiss.

Emma Rose

Simple syrup

  • Sweetness to balance - Simple syrup mitigates the tartness. Mess this up and you'll need to brace for a sweet tooth overload or a face-twisting tartness that'll make you look like you’re chewing a wasp.

Mary Mitkina

Egg white

  • For that silky froth - Egg white adds a creamy texture and a beautiful foam top. Skip it, and you miss the magic show on top of your glass. And no, it doesn't taste like breakfast.

Alex Green

Angostura bitters

  • A dash of complexity - Angostura bitters give an herbal, spicy layer. A cocktail without bitters is like a joke without a punchline—not as memorable.

Emma Rose

Maraschino cherry

  • The cherry on top - literally. Maraschino cherry adds a hint of sweetness and an eye-candy garnish. Without it, it’s like a birthday without a candle.

Mary Mitkina

Orange slice

  • Aromatic embellishment - Orange slice not just for looks, it adds a subtle aroma. It's the final touch, like a signature on a painting. No orange, less drama.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Bourbon Sour Drink

  1. Combine ingredients: In a cocktail shaker, add the bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white.
  2. Dry shake: Shake the mixture without ice for about 10 seconds to emulsify the egg white and create a frothy texture.
  3. Add ice: Fill the shaker with ice and shake again for about 15 seconds to chill and dilute the cocktail.
  4. Strain: Double strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
  5. Garnish: Add a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters on top of the foam, and garnish with a maraschino cherry and an orange slice.

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh lemon juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice will give your Bourbon Sour a brighter, more vibrant flavor than bottled lemon juice.
  • Shake well: Make sure to shake the cocktail shaker vigorously to fully emulsify the egg white and create a frothy texture.
  • Chill your glass: A chilled glass will keep your cocktail cooler for longer, enhancing its refreshing qualities.

Perfect Pairings


  • Cheese plates: Bourbon sour has a citrusy tang that pairs well with the creamy textures of Brie or Camembert.
  • Barbecue bites: The smokiness of barbecue especially pulled pork sliders complements the bourbon's warmth.
  • Savory nuts: A bowl of salted almonds or cashews can enhance the nutty undertones of the bourbon.

Main Courses

  • Grilled meats: Think steak or lamb chops with a bourbon sour to cut through the fattiness.
  • Seafood: The brightness of the lemon can go well with grilled shrimp or salmon.


  • Fruit tarts: The brightness of the lemon accentuates the sweetness of apple or pear tarts.
  • Dark chocolate: Pair it to contrast with the sweetness and the bite of the bitters in the drink.

Other Drinks

  • Coffee: For an after-dinner treat, bourbon sour's citrus notes could be a refreshing follow-up to espresso.

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What you could change in Bourbon Sour

  • Bourbon: If you don't have bourbon, you can use another type of whiskey, such as rye or Scotch.
  • Simple syrup: You can replace the simple syrup with honey or agave nectar for a different kind of sweetness.
  • Egg white: If you're vegan or allergic to eggs, you can use aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) as a substitute for the egg white.

Explore all drinks starting with B here

And of course - twists🍹

Maple Bourbon Sour

Syrup swap-out: Use maple syrup instead of simple syrup for a robust, autumnal twist. The cocktail becomes a liquid sweater, wrapping you in warmth.

Smoky Sour

Peaty partner: Add a float of peated Scotch on top for a smoky note. It’s like a campfire in a glass, perfect for contemplative sipping.

New York Sour

Wine wave: Float red wine over the foam for the classic New York Sour. The layers of flavor are as complex as a subway map, with a visual appeal that’s just as striking.

In case you forgot basics how to make Bourbon Sour

The basic composition of simple syrup is relatively straightforward – a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. This mixture is heated until the sugar dissolves, resulting in a clear, sweet syrup.

Learn everything about simple syrup

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Bourbon Sour

What type of bourbon is best for a Bourbon Sour?

Any high-quality bourbon will work well in a Bourbon Sour. However, a bourbon with a higher rye content will bring out a spicier flavor that balances the cocktail nicely.

What is the origin of the term 'sour' in cocktail naming?

'Sour' in cocktail terminology typically refers to a category of drinks that are made with a base spirit, a sour ingredient (usually citrus juice), and a sweetener. The term 'sour' was first used in the mid-19th century.

What does 'dry shake' mean?

A 'dry shake' is a bartending technique where the ingredients are shaken without ice. This is often done when cocktails contain an egg white, as it helps to create a frothy texture.

Are there non-alcoholic versions of the Bourbon Sour?

Yes, 'mocktail' versions of the Bourbon Sour can be made without alcohol. Instead of bourbon, you can use non-alcoholic spirit alternatives or other non-alcoholic ingredients like apple juice for a similar flavor profile.

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