This Vodka Sour is a refreshing, but still deliciously decadent cocktail that is great for so many occasions! Lemon is the main flavor in this drink, but the addition of egg whites and bitters give it an extra depth of flavor that is super tasty. This is a great drink for any citrus lover!
This Vodka Sour cocktail is great for summertime, but really can be enjoyed anytime you're looking for some tart citrus flavor. Its simplicity makes it a great one to pair with a fish or chicken dish at dinner.
If you're looking for some more tasty sour cocktails, try out the dark Rum Sour, or the classic New York Sour with a red wine float. The Aperol Sour is another super delicious and refreshing drink that uses Aperol amaro liqueur. Or, for another classic vodka cocktail, try out the Vodka Press.
History of the cocktail
Sour cocktails have been around since at least the 1890's! The first published recipe was for a Brandy Sour, but since then Whiskey Sours have become the most well known.
The vodka version of this classic cocktail is a little more clean and simple, since vodka is made to be a neutral-tasting spirit. This lets the bright, fresh flavor of the lemon juice shine!
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make the drink:
- Vodka - when vodka is the base spirit of a drink, it lets the flavors of the other ingredients shine through. I like Tito's vodka for this one, but you can use your own favorite vodka.
- Lemon juice - fresh lemon juice is best for the most tangy and tasty flavor!
- Simple syrup - this is a 1:1 mix of water and sugar. It's easy to make your own simple syrup, but store bought works great too.
- Egg whites - I use pasteurized carton egg whites. You can pasteurize your eggs in a sous vide if you don't have carton whites. Or, use fresh raw egg whites if you are comfortable, just note that there are risks to consuming raw egg whites.
- Bitters - Angostura bitters are fragrant and flavorful bitters can be used more like a garnish by dripping them on top of the foam layer. Optionally, you can add a couple of dashes to the cocktail itself.
- Lemon slice - optional, for garnish.
Here are some ways you can substitute the ingredients in this cocktail:
- Vodka - if you don't have vodka, try using blanco tequila, white rum or gin in this recipe.
- Lemon juice - if you can'd use fresh lemon juice, try using bottled lemon juice, or lime juice. If you only have sweet and sour mix, you can use that, but just omit the simple syrup since that has its own sweetener.
- Simple syrup - instead of simple syrup, you can use maple syrup or agave nectar.
- Bitters - if you don't have these, just omit them. You could also use a different flavor, like lemon bitters, although they probably won't show up on the foam. Instead, cut a large piece of lemon peel and squeeze it on top of the foam for a lemony aroma.
- Egg whites - you can make this drink without egg whites -- just omit them. If you want a vegan option, try out aquafaba (chick pea juice), or use a store bought cocktail foamer.
Here are some variations on this recipe:
- Flavored vodka - try using a flavored vodka, like citrus, or even vanilla vodka. This will bring an extra pop of flavor.
- Cherry Vodka Sour - instead of plain simple syrup, try out a cherry flavor syrup to make this drink. It goes so well with the lemon! Collins brand cherry syrup is a great one to try. You can use a maraschino cherry as a garnish.
- Keto Friendly Vodka Sour - it's easy to make this into a keto-friendly drink. Just switch out the simple syrup for a syrup made with a sugar free sweetener. My favorite is allulose! You can use store bought sugar free syrup, or you can make your own (check my How to Make Simple Syrup post for more info).
- Virgin version - if you're avoiding alcohol, you can either use plain water in place of the vodka, or try out a white rum substitute, like Lyre's White Cane non-alcoholic spirit, for a little extra flavor.
You'll need to have some basic bar equipment, like a cocktail shaker and strainer, and a jigger. Grab a knife and cutting board if you're going to make a lemon garnish. Optionally, a blender ball will help you get a really good foam.
Bonus points if you have a fine mesh strainer! You can double strain this drink, using both a fine mesh and a regular strainer together. It'll help you get a more consistent foam texture on top.
You'll also need a cocktail serving glass. I like to use a stemmed coupe glass for this one. It makes the foam look great, and the stem helps keep it cool since it's normally served without ice.
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Start out by preparing your lemon slice garnish, and set it aside.
Then, start making the drink. Add the lemon juice into your cocktail shaker.
Add in the simple syrup, and then the egg whites.
Then, add in the vodka.
If you have a blender ball, add that in at this point, too. It'll really help make a strong foam layer.
Seal your shaker and shake everything really well. You'll probably want to shake for at least a full minute to build a strong foam.
Then, open up the shaker and add in some ice.
Shake everything again along with the ice. This time, you just need to shake about 15-20 times.
Then, strain the drink into your serving glass. Use a regular strainer as well as a fine mesh strainer if you have both. (This is called "double straining".)
Add 5 drops of Angostura bitters to the top of the foam layer. I find it helps to use a bitters bottle if you have one, but the regular bottle they come in should work ok too.
Then, use a cocktail pick to drag through the drops. It'll make them look like tiny hearts.
Add the lemon slice to the rim of the glass, and serve. Cheers!
Hint: Chill the cocktail glass for about 30 minutes in the fridge before using it. This will help the drink stay colder longer, which is key for egg white cocktails!
Frequently Asked Questions
A sour cocktail is normally made with a base spirit, like whiskey or vodka, plus a sour ingredient and a sweet ingredient. Here, the vodka pairs with lemon juice and simple syrup. Lots of sour cocktails also have egg whites added for a foam layer.
Of course! You can just omit the egg white if you want to skip the foam. This version is really good over ice too. Or, try using aquafaba (chick pea juice) if you want to skip the egg.
Mostly, the difference is the base spirit: whiskey and vodka! Normally, a Whiskey Sour is served over ice, where a Vodka Sour is served up in a coupe glass. Both are very versatile, though, and can be served either over ice or up.
If you're not a fan of egg whites, or you want to make this into a vegan cocktail, try using aquafaba. This is the juice from a can of chick peas, and works just like egg whites to make the foam layer.
You can also use a store bought vegan foamer, like Fee brothers Fee Foam.
- Add the vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg whites to a cocktail shaker. If you want, add 2 dashes of Angostura bitters at this point.
- Optionally, add the blender ball into the shaker. You could also use the spring off of a cocktail strainer if you don't have a blender ball.
- Seal up the shaker and shake vigorously. This "dry shake" (without ice) will probably take at least a minute to create a strong foam.
- Open up the shaker and add in some ice.
- Seal it back up, and shake again, about 15-20 good shakes. This "wet shake" will chill and dilute the drink.
- Strain the drink into the serving glass. If you have a fine mesh strainer, pour it through both strainers at the same time ("double strain").
- Add 5 drops of bitters on top of the foam layer of the drink, dropping them in a circle. Then, use a cocktail pick to drag through the drops, making them look like little hearts.
- Add the lemon slice to the rim of the glass, and serve.