Sours belong to a family of traditional mixed drinks first described by Jerry Thomas in the 1862 book How to Mix Drinks. Sours contain a base liquor, a sour (generally lemon or lime, but sometimes grapefruit), and a sweetener (grenadine, simple syrup, and triple sec for example), with egg whites included in some recipes like a Pisco Sour. The addition of egg whites results in a creamy top and provides some additional body to the drink. Commonly consumed drinks in the versatile sour family include the daiquiri, margarita, mojito, and sidecar.
Most bartenders follow a basic formula to make a sour consisting of 2oz. of base liquor, 3/4oz. of sour, and 3/4 oz. of sweet. Combine these ingredients in a cocktail shaker, fill it with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker becomes very cold–generally 10-20 seconds. Finally, strain the drink and serve.
The adjustment of ingredients and techniques like shaking times are common modifiers in sour construction. Keep in mind, the key is to create an overall balanced drink, if you prefer a sweeter cocktail adjust the ratios accordingly, but gradually to find your preference. Many spirits play nicely in a sour cocktail with lemon matching nicely with brandy and whiskey/whisky, while lime works paired with rum and tequila/mezcal. Gin remains a wildcard, so experiment with an open mind to create your perfect sour. Using various liqueurs as the sweetener provides other more potent variations. An example is a margarita, which utilizes triple sec to sweeten the drink and provides a higher ABV.
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