Vodka Sour

Vodka Sour

Looking for the perfect balance of bitter and sweet when it comes to your vodka cocktails? Look no further! The Vodka Sour might just be the refreshing libation you've been searching for. Join us as we dive into the world of this tangy and delightful cocktail and learn how to craft the perfect vodka sour right at home!

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What is a Vodka Sour?

The Vodka Sour is a zesty and mouthwatering cocktail that includes vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and a touch of egg white for a silky-smooth texture. Belonging to the “sour” family of cocktails, it is known for its perfect harmony of sweet and sour, with a bright citrus kick. Vodka Sours are versatile and easy to make, making them a favorite for cocktail enthusiasts everywhere.

History of the Sour Cocktail

Sour cocktails date back to the 18th century when British sailors would mix lemon or lime juice with spirits, like rum or whiskey, to ward off scurvy. As sour-based drinks became more popular, bartenders began creating variations with different spirits like gin, brandy, and, of course, vodka.

The famous Whiskey Sour, a close cousin of the Vodka Sour, first appeared in print in 1862 in Jerry Thomas' "Bartenders Guide," giving it a lasting place in cocktail history.

Choosing the Right Ingredients

  1. Vodka: Choose a high-quality vodka that complements the sour flavors of the cocktail. You'll want something smooth, but not overly complex, as the bright citrus notes should take center stage.
  2. Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a must for a delicious Vodka Sour. Bottled lemon juice lacks the vibrant flavor and brightness of fresh lemons, ultimately affecting the quality of your cocktail.
  3. Simple Syrup: A 1:1 ratio of sugar dissolved in water, simple syrup adds a touch of sweet to balance the bitterness of the lemon juice. You can also try flavored syrups, like agave or honey, for a unique twist.
  4. Egg White: Though optional, egg whites impart a creamy texture and frothy foam to the Vodka Sour. Make sure to use fresh, pasteurized eggs to avoid any risk of salmonella.
  5. Ice: High-quality, clean ice is essential for any cocktail. The ice should be large and solid, ensuring it doesn’t melt too quickly, which can water down your drink.
  6. Garnish: A lemon wheel, cherry, or even a sprig of mint can add a touch of flair to your finished cocktail. Get creative and make it your own!

How to Make a Vodka Sour


  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 0.75 oz simple syrup
  • 1 egg white (optional)
  • Ice
  • Garnish of your choice (lemon wheel, cherry, mint, etc.)


  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white, if using.
  2. Perform a "dry shake" without ice for about 30 seconds to emulsify the egg white and create a creamy texture.
  3. Add ice to the shaker and shake again for another 30 seconds or until the mixture is well-chilled.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
  5. Garnish with your choice of lemon wheel, cherry, mint, or any other garnish you prefer.

Variations on the Vodka Sour

The Vodka Sour is an incredibly versatile cocktail that can easily be customized to your tastes, making it a perfect canvas for experimentation. Here are a few popular variations:

  • Raspberry Vodka Sour: Muddle fresh raspberries in the shaker before adding the other ingredients for a fruity twist.
  • Herbal Vodka Sour: Add a few leaves of fresh basil or sage to your shaker for an herbaceous kick.
  • Spicy Vodka Sour: Infuse your simple syrup with jalapeños or your favorite spicy pepper for a bit of heat to liven your drink.

Vodka Sour Example:

Imagine yourself hosting a gathering of friends on a warm summer evening. As the sun sets, you unveil your newfound Mixology skills and whip up a batch of refreshing Vodka Sours, complete with a creative garnish. The vibrant taste of fresh lemon juice and the smooth texture from the egg white create the perfect balance that instantly becomes a hit amongst your guests. Cheers!

Now that you're well-acquainted with the tangy, refreshing world of the Vodka Sour, we invite you to mix up a glass and share your new knowledge with friends. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or explore its many variations, there's no doubt it will become a staple of your cocktail repertoire. Don’t forget to check out other vodka guides and recipes on Vodka Doctors, and share this article with fellow libation enthusiasts! Cheers!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Vodka Sour?

A Vodka Sour is a classic cocktail that combines vodka, lemon juice, a sweetener (usually simple syrup), and sometimes egg white or a vegan alternative for a frothy texture. It is served either on the rocks or straight up in a cocktail glass.

How do I make simple syrup for a Vodka Sour?

Simple syrup can be made by heating equal parts sugar and water until the sugar dissolves, then allowing the mixture to cool before use. This sweetener adds a smooth texture to cocktails like the Vodka Sour.

Is there a non-alcoholic version of a Vodka Sour?

Yes, you can create a non-alcoholic version, often called a "Sour Mocktail," by substituting the vodka with a non-alcoholic spirit or simply leaving it out and relying on the combination of lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water for flavor.

What type of glass should a Vodka Sour be served in?

Vodka Sours are traditionally served in a coupe or rocks glass, but they can be presented in any glass you prefer. The presentation of the drink is a personal choice and can be adjusted based on your aesthetic preference.

Can I make a Vodka Sour in a pitcher for a party?

Absolutely! Mix a larger quantity of the ingredients in a pitcher, but wait to add the ice until just before serving to prevent dilution. Also, instead of shaking, give the mixture a good stir in the pitcher before pouring over ice in individual glasses.

What does the egg white do in a Vodka Sour?

Egg white is used in a Vodka Sour to create a frothy, creamy texture and a smooth mouthfeel. When shaken vigorously, it emulsifies with the other ingredients, creating a layer of foam on top of the cocktail.

Is there a vegan substitute for egg white in a Vodka Sour?

Yes, aquafaba, the liquid from a can of chickpeas, is commonly used as a vegan substitute. It mimics the properties of egg whites and creates a similar frothy texture when shaken.

Can I use bottled lemon juice for a Vodka Sour?

Although fresh lemon juice is recommended for the best flavor, bottled lemon juice can be used in a pinch. However, be aware that it may alter the taste as it lacks the freshness and zest of freshly squeezed lemon.

What are the proportions of ingredients in a Vodka Sour?

The classic Vodka Sour typically consists of 2 oz of vodka, 3/4 oz of lemon juice, and 3/4 oz of simple syrup. This can be tweaked to suit personal taste preferences.

Can I add fruit or herbs to my Vodka Sour?

Definitely! Fresh fruits like berries and herbs like mint or basil can be muddled or added as a garnish to introduce additional layers of flavor and enhance the aesthetic appeal of the drink.

What is the ideal type of vodka for a Vodka Sour?

A medium-bodied, neutral vodka is ideal for a Vodka Sour, as it allows the tartness of the lemon and sweetness of the syrup to shine through. However, feel free to use any vodka you enjoy.

How do I achieve the perfect balance of sweet and sour?

Finding the right balance can take some experimentation; start with the classic ratio and adjust to your taste. Remember that the sweetness of the syrup and the tartness of the lemon should complement each other, not overwhelm.

How can I make a Vodka Sour if I don't have a cocktail shaker?

You can combine the ingredients in a glass or jar and stir vigorously or use a blender if the mixture includes egg white. Just be careful to ensure everything is well mixed and properly chilled.

Do I need to use ice in a Vodka Sour?

Ice is commonly used when shaking a Vodka Sour as it chills the drink and adds a slight dilution which is generally desired. However, if preferred, the cocktail can be made without ice or strained into a glass without ice.

How long should I shake a Vodka Sour?

When using a cocktail shaker, shake the ingredients vigorously for about 15-20 seconds or until the shaker feels cold. This ensures proper mixing and chilling of the ingredients.

Is a Vodka Sour the same as a Whiskey Sour, just with vodka?

The Vodka Sour and Whiskey Sour share a similar base recipe (spirit, lemon juice, and sweetener), but the type of spirit greatly affects the taste. Whiskey provides a distinct warmth and depth, while vodka yields a cleaner, more neutral flavor profile.

Is a Vodka Sour considered a strong cocktail?

The strength of a Vodka Sour depends on the vodka's proof and the ratios used. It's generally considered moderately strong but also balanced by the sour and sweet components.

What's a good garnish for a Vodka Sour?

A slice of lemon, a cocktail cherry, or a twist of lemon peel make popular garnishes, adding a visual appeal and a hint of additional flavor or aroma to the drink.

Can I prepare Vodka Sours in advance?

It's best to prepare Vodka Sours fresh, but if needed, you can mix the liquids in advance without the ice. Shake with ice and add egg white (if using) just before serving to ensure freshness and frothiness.

Can adding bitters to a Vodka Sour enhance the flavor?

Yes, a dash of bitters can add depth and complexity to the drink. Angostura bitters are a common choice, but feel free to experiment with other types to find your preferred flavor profile.

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Ferdynand Scheuerman

Ferdynand is Vodka importer, exporter and specialist with over 30 years of experience in the Vodka industry. He knows the subtle in's & out's of Vodka. Spending most of his time discovering new brands, new blends and new cocktails.

About Ferdynand Scheuerman

Ferdynand is Vodka importer, exporter and specialist with over 30 years of experience in the Vodka industry. He knows the subtle in's & out's of Vodka. Spending most of his time discovering new brands, new blends and new cocktails.

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