Simple Amaretto Sour

A Simple Recipe for the Classic Amaretto Cocktail

Simple amaretto sour cocktail with cherries and an orange slice garnishes

The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
249 Calories
0g Fat
32g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 249
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 6mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 11%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 29g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 19mg 93%
Calcium 12mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 122mg 3%
*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 amaretto sour is a classic cocktail that came out of American bars during the 1970s. No one knows who invented it, but almost everyone agrees that this is a fantastic drink. Made with just a few ingredients, it's also easy to mix up, and there are several tasty variations to explore.

The star of this cocktail is, of course, amaretto. The almond-flavored liqueur with Italian roots is used in many drink recipes, but it's rarely the only distilled spirit. In this simple amaretto sour recipe, the tart taste of lemon juice accents amaretto's sweet nuttiness. You can add simple syrup, though it's best to take it easy, or the cocktail will be too sweet. When using a sweeter amaretto, you may even want to skip the syrup.

Since it's the lone liquor, this cocktail is best with top-shelf brands of amaretto. It's also an excellent use for homemade amaretto. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is essential because the bottled varieties simply won't make a great sour cocktail.

Over the years, many versions of the amaretto sour have emerged. Among the best are those that include egg white, and bourbon is a good addition, too. The simpler recipe is a good one to scale up for a party, and you can even make a virgin amaretto sour with a few quick ingredient swaps.

"The Amaretto Sour is a cocktail I cannot imagine not dominating my young years of bartending. Before the notorious ‘Not Too Sweet’ callout, this cocktail was always in the top five requests and for good reason. It’s easy, tasty, and sweet. If you’re in the mood for something fun and lip-smacking, this recipe will make you smile." —Sean Johnson

Amaretto sour cocktail tarnished with cherries
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 ounces amaretto liqueur

  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1/2 medium lemon

  • 1 teaspoon rich simple syrup, optional and to taste

  • Maraschino cherries, for garnish

  • 1/2 orange slice, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients gathered for an amaretto sour

    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

  2. In a cocktail shaker, pour the amaretto, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Fill the shaker with ice.

    Amaretto sour ingredients mixed together in a glass with ice

    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

  3. Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds.

    Amaretto sour cocktail shaken together

    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

  4. Strain into an old-fashioned glass over fresh ice.

    Amaretto sour strained into an old-fashioned glass next to a strainer over a glass with ice

    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

  5. Garnish with a few skewered maraschino cherries and an orange slice.

    Amaretto sour garnished with an orange slice and real maraschino cherries

    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios


  • To find that delicate balance of sweet and sour that makes this drink special, measure the ingredients carefully using a jigger or shot glass. You may need to adjust the lemon juice or simple syrup as you switch brands of amaretto.
  • Rather than the bright red maraschino cherries, which are bleached and dyed, use real maraschino cherries (e.g., Luxardo brand), or try making spiced brandied cherries.

An Egg White Amaretto Sour

Many sour cocktails are a little more enjoyable when you add egg white to the mix. It's a simple way to amplify the drink and creates a frothy top that is simply luscious. Be sure to use only the freshest egg and separate the white from the yolk.

  • To mix the egg white amaretto sour, add an egg white to the recipe. Dry shake the ingredients without ice, then fill the shaker with ice cubes and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds before straining.
  • Portland, Oregon bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler's version is a favorite in bars and restaurants. It adds 3/4 ounce of cask-strength bourbon to the mix and uses 1 1/2 ounces of amaretto, one teaspoon of rich simple syrup, and 1/2 ounce of egg white.

Recipe Variations

  • The amaretto sour is best when shaken because the extra dilution mellows and marries the flavors and aerates the cocktail. If you want to fill a pitcher for a party, it may be best to shake a few cocktails in batches (multiply the recipe for as many drinks as your shaker will hold) then strain them into the pitcher. Pour into ice-filled glasses.
  • You can stir a full pitcher, but you will need to do so vigorously for at least 30 seconds with a lot of ice. To make a six-serving pitcher, use 1 1/2 cups of amaretto, 3/4 cups of fresh lemon juice, and about 1/8 cup of simple syrup. Taste and adjust the lemon juice and syrup as needed.
  • Switch to an orange-infused simple syrup to give this drink nice citrus notes and extra dimension.
  • One popular version of the amaretto sour uses sour mix and lemon-lime soda (quite often Sprite). Try this one with two ounces of amaretto and one ounce of sour mix; shake or stir with ice, then top the glass with soda. It's best with homemade sour mix.
  • The easiest way to make a virgin amaretto sour is to use a nonalcoholic amaretto. Zero-proof liqueurs are becoming more popular, and brands like Lyre's produce very good replicas of the liqueur.
  • Another intriguing nonalcoholic amaretto sour uses pineapple and amaretto syrup (a popular coffee sweetener). Try two ounces of pineapple juice and one ounce each of lemon juice and amaretto syrup for this mix. A few dashes of almond extract can replace the amaretto syrup if you use plain simple syrup.

How Strong Is an Amaretto Sour?

Though the alcohol content varies slightly, amaretto is, on average, a 17 percent ABV (34 proof) liqueur. That's a pretty light base for a cocktail when compared to whiskey, vodka, and similar spirits. It also means that the amaretto sour is pleasantly light, weighing in around 9 percent ABV (18 proof) or a little lighter than a glass of wine. An amaretto sour with bourbon will be a bit stronger.