Classic Scotch Sour Cocktail

Classic scotch sour cocktail

The Spruce / Emily Baker

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
109 Calories
0g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 109
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 9mg 44%
Calcium 1mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 24mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The scotch sour is a fantastic way to dress up Scotch whisky. It's a simple spin on the popular whiskey sour, and the basic recipe requires just two ingredients. This is one of the most delightful scotch cocktails you can mix up and it's an entirely different experience with each new whisky you choose to pour.

The interesting part of scotch sour recipes is that the majority skip the sweetener. That balance of sweet and sour is vital in the whisky version, but not so much in this recipe. You can always add a touch of sweetness, a splash of soda, or even an egg white to complete the traditional sour formula if you prefer. It's also likely that the perfect mix will change from one whiskey to another.

In this recipe, don't go overboard on the lemon juice. Scotch is a bit touchier ​than other styles of whisky and the goal here is to merely accent it with the bright citrus flavor.


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"Most sours have three ingredients, but this recipe uses just two. The lemon and scotch play off each other in such a surprising, harmonious way. Lemon bolsters the scotch’s sweetness while the scotch mellows out the lemon. If you want to understand how good a simple cocktail can be, this recipe is a must." —Sean Johnson

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 1/2 ounces blended Scotch whisky

  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic scotch sour cocktail ingredients

    The Spruce / Emily Baker

  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the scotch and lemon juice.

    Cocktail shaker with ice

    The Spruce / Emily Baker

  3. Shake well.

    Cocktail shaker

    The Spruce / Emily Baker

  4. Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Serve and enjoy.

    Classic scotch sour cocktail in a glass

    The Spruce / Emily Baker

How Is Scotch Different From Whiskey?

Scotch is a style of whiskey, and the main difference between scotch and other whiskeys is geographic. They also differ in terms of ingredients and how the word whiskey is spelled. Scotch is whisky specifically made in Scotland. It is distilled from peat-dried malted barley, which imparts its signature smoky flavor, and is either blended or single malt. Scotch also spells whisky without the "e." Other whiskey styles are distilled in other parts of the world from other grains, including corn and rye.


  • Save your really good scotch for sipping straight and choose a budget-friendly option for your scotch sour experiments.
  • Blended scotch is generally preferred over single malts for this cocktail because the milder, balanced flavor tends to work best with lemon. It really does not work well with heavily peated scotch or those with other dominant flavors.
  • Fresh lemon juice is essential. The bottled varieties do not have the clean taste that scotch deserves. One lemon yields about 1 3/4 ounces of fresh-squeezed juice, so half a lemon should be about right.
  • If you prefer, stir this cocktail in the shaker for about 30 seconds. The ice dilution helps marry the two contrasting flavors, and it's still best when strained over fresh ice.

Recipe Variations

There are a few ways to make a scotch sour and which you choose is going to depend on the particular scotch you pour. If you find that the drink is a little too sour with one whisky, experiment with these additives:

  • Add 1 teaspoon of sugar or a dash of simple syrup.
  • Add a splash of soda water, but avoid sweetened sodas.
  • To give the sour a foam and luscious mouthfeel, shake it with 1/2 ounce of egg white. Often, this addition is best with the sweetener.

How Strong Is the Scotch Sour?

The scotch sour is a very short drink, shaking up just shy of 3 ounces. Like many cocktails of this sort, the alcohol content is about half the bottling strength of the scotch. With an 80-proof whisky, it weighs in at about 22 percent ABV (44 proof).