French Sour Cocktail Recipe

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French 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 French Sour is a delightful twist on the classic Whiskey Sour. It's a cocktail that's gained popularity for its smooth blend of bourbon and the delicate sweetness of elderflower liqueur.

  • Origins
    • The exact origins are unclear, but it's believed to have been inspired by the classic American Whiskey Sour.
    • The addition of elderflower liqueur gives it a French touch, hence the name.
  • Popularity
    • It's particularly favored by those who appreciate a balance of floral and sour flavors in their cocktails.
  • Occasions
    • Perfect for a sophisticated evening or a casual get-together with friends.

How French Sour Tastes?

The French Sour is a harmonious blend of sweet, floral, and tart flavors. The bourbon provides a robust foundation, while the elderflower liqueur adds a light, fragrant sweetness. The lemon juice cuts through with a refreshing acidity, making the drink bright and invigorating.

Interesting facts about French Sour

  • The French Sour can be considered a botanical cousin to the classic sour cocktails due to its use of elderflower liqueur.
  • It's a versatile cocktail that can be enjoyed all year round, but it's particularly refreshing in the spring and summer months.
  • The cocktail's elegance makes it a popular choice for wedding receptions and celebratory events.



Bourbon is your foundation, the rich and warm heart giving structure to the French Sour. 2oz strikes the perfect balance—not overpowering, but still lets you know it's there. Without it, the drink would lack depth and that signature warmth. Going overboard could turn your sip into a stumble, overpowering the other delicate notes.

Emma Rose

Elderflower Liqueur

The elderflower liqueur is the delicate handshake between floral and sweet—a mere 0.5oz is a whisper, but it elevates the drink with elegance. Skip it and you'll miss out on the refined personality it brings. A swap for something like St-Germain could maintain the character while changing the conversation.

Alex Green

Lemon Juice

0.75oz of lemon juice is the zesty interjection needed to cut through the sweetness and bring balance. Less would be a mumble; more, a shout. Leave it out, and the drink loses its piquant edge. If life hands you limes instead, expect a tarter twist on the classic.

Mary Mitkina

Simple Syrup

At 0.5oz, simple syrup sweetly sings backup, rounding out edges without stealing the spotlight. Fiddle with the volume and you tip the sweet-sour scale, potentially losing the harmony. No syrup means a sour face, overpowering the cocktail's careful equilibrium.

Emma Rose

Egg White

Egg white is the maestro of smooth, lending a 1oz cloud of silken froth to the mix—enough to add texture without sliding into a protein shake territory. Omitting it leaves a flatter, less sensual experience. Vegan? Try aquafaba for a similar, though slightly different velour finish.

Alex Green

Ice Cubes

Ice is your stage crew—unseen but essential, chilling the performance to perfection. Skimp and you're sipping a tepid monologue; too much and you're watering down the plot. Use 'As needed' for a crisp, refreshing narrative.

Mary Mitkina

Lemon Twist

Finally, the garnish: a lemon twist. It's the zest that ties the room together, without which the drink simply feels undressed.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make French Sour Drink

  1. In a shaker, combine bourbon, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white.
  2. Dry shake (shake without ice) vigorously for about 15 seconds to emulsify the egg white.
  3. Add ice to the shaker and shake again until well-chilled.
  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  5. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Pro Tips

  • To achieve the perfect froth from the egg white, make sure to shake vigorously during the dry shake.
  • Chilling your cocktail glass beforehand will keep your drink colder for longer.
  • When garnishing with a lemon twist, express the oils over the drink for an extra burst of citrus aroma.

Perfect Pairings


  • Charcuterie Board: The rich, smoky flavor of the bourbon and the floral notes from the elderflower liqueur complement savory cured meats and bold cheeses.
  • Bruschetta: The acidic pop of fresh tomatoes and balsamic pairs delightfully with the citrus element in the cocktail.


  • Roast Chicken: The herbal notes of the elderflower and the brightness of the lemon cut through the richness of the chicken.
  • Grilled Salmon: A dish with oily fish like salmon is balanced by the cocktail's fresh lemon juice.


  • Lemon Tart: Mirroring the cocktail's citrus note, a lemon tart can amplify the nature of the cocktail.
  • Almond Biscotti: The nuttiness of the biscotti plays nicely with the elderflower's floral character.

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What you could change in French Sour

  • Bourbon: Can be substituted with another type of whiskey if bourbon is not available.
  • Elderflower Liqueur: St-Germain is a popular brand and widely regarded as the go-to for this ingredient.
  • Egg White: For a vegan alternative, aquafaba (chickpea brine) can be used.

Explore all drinks starting with F here

And of course - twists🍹

Smoky French Sour

  • Ingredients: Substitute bourbon with 2oz of mezcal for a smoky twist. Keep all other ingredients the same.
  • Recipe: Follow the original recipe steps, using mezcal instead of bourbon.
  • This version will have an earthy smokiness that complements the elderflower's floral notes, a perfect match for those who like a little fire in their sip.

Herbal French Sour

  • Ingredients: Add a few fresh basil leaves to the original ingredients.
  • Recipe: Muddle the basil leaves with the simple syrup before adding to the shaker. Continue as per original recipe.
  • The basil leaves add an aromatic herbaceous twist, providing a garden-fresh sensation that'll make your taste buds feel like they're on a French holiday.

Berry French Sour

  • Ingredients: Include 0.5oz of raspberry syrup in addition to the original ingredients.
  • Recipe: Add the raspberry syrup to the shaker along with the other ingredients and shake as directed.
  • This fruity variation introduces a berry sweet note that dances with the sour elements, giving a performance that's as colorful as it is delicious.

In case you forgot basics how to make French 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 French Sour

How can I achieve a clear ice cube that looks great in a French Sour?

To achieve clear ice, boil distilled water twice and allow it to cool before freezing it. Pour it into a cooler and place it in your freezer, leaving the lid off to allow directional freezing. Once frozen, remove the ice block and carve it into cubes.

What's the significance of the 4% ABV in the French Sour?

The 14% ABV (alcohol by volume) indicates the strength of the cocktail, which is relatively moderate, allowing the flavors of the bourbon and elderflower liqueur to shine through without being overpowering.

Can I make a French Sour without a cocktail shaker?

Yes, you can use a mason jar or any container with a tight seal. Add your ingredients, close it tightly, and shake vigorously. Strain with a fine mesh if you have no cocktail strainer.

Is there a specific bourbon that works best with the French Sour?

While any quality bourbon can work, ones with a smoother profile that aren't too high in rye content tend to blend well with the elderflower's softness.

How important is the lemon twist garnish?

The lemon twist garnish adds a sensory element of fresh citrus aroma when expressed over the drink, enhancing the cocktail experience.

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