Gin Sour


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Introduction to the Gin Sour

The Gin Sour is a cocktail that epitomizes the elegance of simplicity. With its harmonious blend of gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup, this drink has stood the test of time. It’s a testament to the idea that great things come in threes, and in the world of cocktails, the Gin Sour is a prime example.

Originating from the 19th century, this cocktail has evolved but its core remains unchanged. It’s a refreshing choice that suits any occasion, whether a summer garden party or a cozy night in. If you’re a fan of citrus-forward drinks with a hint of sweetness, the Gin Sour is your perfect match.

Let’s dive into the world of this classic sour cocktail, exploring its rich history, flavor profile, and the nuances that make it a beloved staple in the cocktail community.

Key Facts About the Gin Sour

  • Alcohol Volume: Approximately 14% ABV (28 proof)
  • Calories: Approximately 184 kcal per serving
  • Glass Type: Typically served in a chilled cocktail glass
  • Garnish: Lemon twist or wheel

Interesting Facts about the Gin Sour

  • The Gin Sour is part of the sour family of cocktails, which are defined by their combination of a base liquor, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener.
  • It’s believed that the Gin Sour was first published in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 bartending guide, “How to Mix Drinks.”
  • The addition of egg white, creating a frothy texture, transforms the drink into a Boston Sour.

Gin Sour Cocktail

Tasting Notes for the Gin Sour

The Gin Sour strikes a perfect balance between the botanical sharpness of gin and the zesty tartness of fresh lemon juice. The simple syrup rounds out the acidity, adding a smooth sweetness that complements the gin’s complexity. This cocktail is crisp, refreshing, and has a bright flavor profile that can appeal to a wide range of palates.

It’s an ideal drink for those who appreciate a tangy kick in their beverage, without overpowering the spirit’s character. The Gin Sour is versatile, fitting seamlessly into a casual brunch, an elegant dinner party, or as a palate cleanser between courses.

Whether you’re new to the world of cocktails or a seasoned connoisseur, the Gin Sour is a must-try. Its simplicity is its strength, making it a timeless choice that never goes out of style.

History of the Gin Sour

The Gin Sour’s origins can be traced back to the early days of cocktail culture. It’s a direct descendant of the Whiskey Sour, with gin stepping in to offer a lighter, more floral alternative. The cocktail quickly gained popularity for its refreshing qualities and ease of preparation.

During Prohibition, the Gin Sour maintained its status, often being mixed with “bathtub gin,” a homemade spirit of dubious quality. The lemon juice and simple syrup were essential in masking the harsh flavors of these inferior gins.

Post-Prohibition, the Gin Sour continued to thrive, with the mid-20th century seeing a rise in its popularity. It became a symbol of sophistication and was a staple at cocktail parties and in bars across the globe.

Today, the Gin Sour remains a beloved classic, with bartenders and enthusiasts alike revering its simple yet perfect composition. Its history is a testament to the enduring appeal of well-crafted cocktails.

Gin Sour Ingredients

  • Gin (2 oz / 60 ml): The backbone of the cocktail, providing botanical notes that range from juniper to citrus, depending on the brand.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice (3/4 oz / 22 ml): Adds a fresh, tart element that is essential to the sour profile of the cocktail.
  • Simple Syrup (1/2 oz / 15 ml): Balances the acidity with a touch of sweetness, making the drink more palatable.
  • Ice Cubes: Chills the drink, diluting it slightly to meld the flavors together harmoniously.
  • Lemon Twist or Wheel: Provides an aromatic garnish that enhances the overall drinking experience.

Did you know? The Gin Sour is often considered a “gateway” cocktail for those looking to explore the world of mixed drinks due to its approachable flavor profile.

Preparing Gin Sour

Gin Sour Method

Chilling the Glass

Start by placing your cocktail glass in the freezer to chill. A cold glass will keep your Gin Sour at the perfect temperature from the first sip to the last.

Measuring Ingredients

Use a jigger to measure the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup accurately. Consistent proportions are key to the perfect balance in a Gin Sour.

Shaking the Cocktail

Fill a shaker with ice and pour in the measured ingredients. Seal the shaker and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. The shaking not only chills the drink but also introduces tiny air bubbles, giving the cocktail a pleasant texture.


Using a Hawthorne strainer, strain the cocktail into the chilled glass. This step ensures a smooth drink without ice shards or pulp.


Garnish with a lemon twist or wheel. Express the oils over the drink for an extra burst of citrus aroma.

Serving Suggestion for the Gin Sour

The Gin Sour is traditionally served in a chilled cocktail glass, also known as a martini glass. The wide brim allows the aroma of the gin and citrus to reach the nose, enhancing the tasting experience.

For garnish, a lemon twist not only adds visual appeal but also releases essential oils that complement the drink’s flavor. To prepare the twist, use a sharp paring knife or a channel knife to cut a strip of lemon peel, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith.

Elevating the Gin Sour

  • Quality Gin: Opt for a premium gin with a flavor profile that suits your taste. The better the gin, the better the final cocktail.
  • Fresh Ingredients: Always use fresh lemon juice rather than bottled for the brightest flavor. Freshly made simple syrup also makes a difference.
  • Proper Technique: Shake the cocktail until the shaker feels cold to the touch, ensuring a well-chilled drink.
  • Fine Straining: For an even smoother texture, double strain the cocktail through a fine mesh strainer to remove any ice chips or pulp.
  • Egg White: For a silkier mouthfeel, add an egg white to the shaker before adding the ice and shake well. This creates a frothy layer on top of the drink.

Gin Sour Cocktail Served

Substitutions and Alternatives for the Gin Sour

If you’re out of gin or simply want to try something different, consider using vodka for a smoother taste or bourbon for a richer, deeper flavor. For a non-alcoholic version, use a non-alcoholic gin alternative or a simple combination of tonic water and lemon juice.

Similar cocktails that share the sour profile include the Whiskey Sour, using whiskey instead of gin, or the Amaretto Sour, which offers a sweeter, nuttier flavor.

Add a Twist to the Gin Sour

  • Herbal Infusions: Infuse your simple syrup with herbs like rosemary or basil for an aromatic twist.
  • Bitters: A dash of bitters can add complexity and depth to the cocktail.
  • Fruit Purees: Mix in a small amount of fruit puree, such as raspberry or blackberry, for a fruity variation.

Preferred Liquors for the Gin Sour

While many gins can make a delightful Gin Sour, some standouts include Tanqueray for its strong juniper notes, Hendrick’s for its cucumber and rose infusion, and Bombay Sapphire for its balanced botanicals. Each gin brings its unique character to the cocktail.

Similar Cocktails to the Gin Sour

  • Tom Collins: A refreshing gin-based cocktail with lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water.
  • Daiquiri: A rum-based sour that shares the Gin Sour’s simplicity and balance of sweet and tart.
  • Margarita: A tequila-based sour with lime juice and orange liqueur, offering a similar citrusy profile.

Food Pairings to Go with the Gin Sour

The Gin Sour’s bright and tangy flavors pair well with light appetizers like smoked salmon canapés or a cheese platter with goat cheese and aged cheddar. For something more substantial, consider pairing with grilled shrimp or chicken skewers.

For a unique twist, try serving the Gin Sour with spicy foods. The cocktail’s acidity can help cut through the heat and complement the flavors.

Gin Sour FAQs

  1. Can I make a Gin Sour without a cocktail shaker? Yes, you can stir the ingredients over ice and strain into a glass, but shaking is preferred for the best texture.
  2. What if I don’t have simple syrup? You can dissolve granulated sugar in a small amount of hot water or use a sugar cube muddled with lemon juice.
  3. Is it necessary to use fresh lemon juice? Fresh lemon juice is highly recommended for the best flavor, but in a pinch, bottled juice can be used.
  4. Can I store leftover Gin Sour? It’s best enjoyed fresh, but you can store it in the fridge for a short time. Note that the texture may change.
  5. What’s the difference between a Gin Sour and a Tom Collins? A Tom Collins is served with ice in a taller glass and topped with club soda, making it a fizzy, more diluted drink.
Gin Sour_001

Gin Sour

The Gin Sour is a classic cocktail that perfectly balances the sharpness of gin with the tartness of lemon juice, smoothed out with a touch of sweetness. This refreshing drink is a timeless choice for cocktail enthusiasts.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Cuisine International
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 184 kcal


  • Cocktail shaker
  • Jigger or measuring tool
  • Hawthorne strainer
  • chilled cocktail glass


  • 2 oz Gin 60 ml
  • 3/4 oz Fresh lemon juice 22 ml
  • 1/2 oz Simple syrup 15 ml
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon twist or wheel, for garnish


  • Fill a shaker with ice cubes.
  • Pour the gin, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup into the shaker.
  • Shake vigorously until well-chilled, about 15 seconds.
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist or wheel.


For a frothier texture, you can add an egg white to the shaker before shaking (this variation is often called a Gin Sour with egg white or a Boston Sour). Always ensure the use of fresh lemon juice for the best flavor. Adjust the sweetness to your taste by varying the amount of simple syrup.
Keyword Citrus, Classic Cocktail, Cocktail, Gin, Gin Sour, lemon juice, Refreshing, Shaken, Simple Syrup, sour cocktail

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