At its core, a simple sour requires only three things: base spirit, sweetener and citrus. The Whiskey Sour, the Margarita and the Daiquiri are amongst some of the category’s most famous iterations. But classics aside, this three-piece template offers bartenders a framework for drinks that balance the elements of both sweet and sour. To settle into spring, we rounded up a few of our favorite simple sours. And when we say simple, we mean it—just throw everything in a mixing tin with ice, and shake.
Many modern sours share DNA with familiar household names. Take Mal Spence’s Embassie, for instance. This reincarnation of The White Lady opts for Cocchi Americano and yellow Chartreuse in place of Cointreau in addition to the expected gin and lemon. As for the Sawyer, it’s essentially a Gimlet lookalike gone bitter—with over two dozen dashes of Angostura, Peychaud’s and orange bitters. Dear Irving’s Meaghan Dorman, meanwhile, builds upon the Whiskey Sour in her Whiskey Business, which takes a spicier turn thanks to a shot of Ancho Reyes and rich cinnamon syrup.
When it comes to sours, egg whites are optional, but can add visual and textural appeal. In the case of the Saigon Lady, a frothy egg white layer doubles as a landing pad for a dusting of Saigon cinnamon atop the blended Scotch- and brandy-based drink, adding bonus aromatic properties. Leaning on both grapefruit and lime for the citrus component, the Campari Sour is a low-proof option built on the Italian red bitter, because, well, why not.