The gin sour is a classic cocktail that's very enjoyable. Though the recipe has changed a bit over the years, it was one of the original sour drinks enjoyed in the late 1800s. The popularity of other sours, including the iconic whiskey sour, has overshadowed this drink, but it's worth revisiting.
This gin sour recipe is not the oldest, but a favorite bar version for most of the 20th century. It mixes gin, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup for a sour taste with just a hint of sweetness for balance. You can include the egg white and enjoy a luscious foam, or skip it.
A London dry gin is a standard choice for the gin sour. If you want to go old-school, pour genever or Old Tom gin instead. Then again, with the great variety of today's gin scene, it's worth trying the drink with any gin you have on hand.
Gather the ingredients.
In a cocktail shaker, pour the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white (if using), and bitters.
When including the egg white, dry shake the cocktail without ice to break up the egg and ensure a thorough mix.
Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds.
Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.
Serve and enjoy!
Raw Egg Warning
Consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs poses a risk for food-borne illness.
- The average juice yield from one lemon is 1 3/4 ounces. Typically, you can squeeze the juice of half a lemon directly into the shaker. Measuring it offers more control over the flavor.
- Avoid bottled lemon juice for any sour drinks. They throw off the balance of flavor.
- You can hold the bitters and add them to the strained cocktail. Swirl it around in the egg white foam for a little pop of color.
- Before cracking your egg, test it for freshness. Place the egg in a glass of water, and if it sinks, it's fresh. Discard any egg that floats.
- The recommended 1/2-ounce of egg white is about half of the average large egg, and it's best to measure this in a jigger. Add the entire egg white if you prefer a foamier drink.
- The original gin sour from the 1880s did not include egg—that was reserved for an "egg sour" with brandy. Instead, the gin sour was made by dissolving a teaspoon of sugar into a splash of seltzer or still water and the juice of half a lemon. Add 2 ounces of gin and fill the glass with ice. The formula works for brandy, rum, whiskey, and most spirits.
- Shaking that mix became customary by the 1930s, and the drink was often garnished with an orange slice and cherry. The egg white version became popular sometime after Prohibition.
- Some gins will work better with equal parts of sweet and sour. Try 2 ounces of gin and 3/4 ounce each of lemon juice and simple syrup.