Sour cocktails are a family of cocktails which use lime or lemon juice in the ingredients in order to cut from the strong taste of the alcohol. Thus, most sours are made from a liquor base – which is usually whiskey or bourbon -, some lime or lemon juice, sweetener – such as grenadine, simple syrup, pineapple or triple sec – and egg whites. The most common sours are the Sidecar and the lovely Margarita. We are not certain when people began preparing this type of cocktails, but we do know they were mentioned in the book How to Mix Drinks written by Jerry Thomas and published in 1862.
Other types of alcohol that can sometimes be found in sour cocktails are amaretto, rum, gin, brandy and Pisco. Those who want to try some common sours can taste the Margarita and the Sidecar, but cocktails like Kamikaze, Daiquiri or Amaretto Sour as well. One of the lesser known, yet simply delicious sours that you can prepare is the White Lady cocktail, which is based on gin. Other names for this cocktail are Delilah, Kiernander, Lillian Forever or Chelsea Side-car, because it is basically a Sidecar cocktail made with gin instead of brandy.
Here are the ingredients for the White Lady: two parts gin, one part Cointreau and one part lemon juice. In certain places, the bartender also adds egg white, cream and sugar to the composition. You pour all the ingredients in a shaker half filled with ice and stir them well; then you strain them in a cocktail glass with sugar-coated rims, and garnish it with lemon rind. However, when you add the egg white, this cocktail is best served in a champagne saucer because the foam stays better in the curves.
Like most cocktails, sour cocktails like the White Lady have disputed origins; one of the stories claims it was created by Harry MacElhone at Ciro’s Club in London, in 1919. However, he first used creme de menthe, which he only replaced with gin when he started working at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, ten years later. The other account states that the White Lady was the invention of Harry Craddock from The Savoy; while his recipe is identical to the one we know today, it was only published as such in his book, in 1930. Joe Gilmore, who was head bartender at the Savoy and became one of the best and most popular bartenders and cocktail mixers in the world, mentioned that this was one of the favorite drinks of Laurel and Hardy.
Another one of the popular sour cocktails that you can try is the Pisco Sour; these are the ingredients: pisco brandy, sugar, egg white, bitters and lemon juice. The ingredients are shaken in a shaker with ice and then strained in a cocktail glass. Finally, we have the Whiskey Sour, which is made with Bourbon whiskey, sugar, lemon juice, and the optional egg white, which turns it into a Boston Sour. Similar with other sours, the ingredients are shaken together in a shaker and then strained into a wide-mouth glass. You can serve it straight or on the rocks, with garnishes like a Maraschino cherry and orange slices.