Drinking by Design – Part 2: The Sour

Hey!  Guess what day it is?

It’s National Daiquiri Day!  (I really would like to know who assigns the dates for these things.)

Can you guess what a Daiquiri is?

It’s a basic sour!  …which is exactly where I left off in my last post.

This sour is one of the most basic and prevalent formulas in the cocktail world.  There are so many variations it can be a little overwhelming.  Recognize the patterns, though, and you’ll be golden behind any bar.
So… let’s jump right in, and start with the basics.  Just like in Part 1, we’ll take a look at the recipes for 3 different  classic cocktails:

The Daiquiri                             Whiskey Sour                        Tom Collins
1.5 oz white rum                     1.5 oz whiskey                        1.5 oz gin
1 oz fresh lime juice                1 oz fresh lemon juice             1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup                    1 oz simple syrup                   1 oz simple syrup - Top with club soda

Whiskey Sour

It’s pretty easy to notice the similarities.  All these recipes use the basic sour formula:  strong, sour, sweet.  These particular recipes use citrus as the sour element and sugar as the balancing sweetener.  Love a Lemon Drop Cocktail?  Guess what. It uses the same formula.
Amaretto Sour?  Same formula, though you may want to hold back on the simple syrup since amaretto is so sweet in the first place.

Pro tip:  Always keep in mind that a good cocktail is always about a balance of flavors.  Just like in cooking, you don’t want a certain element standing out too much and overpowering the rest of the ingredients.  Do remember, everyone’s palate is different so the formulas may need to be tweaked to individual taste.  Drink too sour?  Add more sweet (or hold back on the sour).  Drink too sweet?  Add more sour (or hold back on the sweet).

Now what would happen if we replaced our sweet element with something else?  For instance, grenadine. (I’ve got a few things to say about grenadine. We’ll talk soon.) Check this out.

Jack Rose
1.5 oz applejack
1 oz fresh lemon juice
.75 oz grenadine

Just like I mentioned in Part 1, you can replace ingredients with others of the same profile.  Simply syrup is sweet, and so is grenadine.  Ta-da!  New cocktail.  There are a ridiculous amount of possibilities for flavored syrups, but remember that not all syrups are created equal. Some may be sweeter than others, so you have to be cautious on how much you use.

Now, this is where things start to get interesting. What happens when you replace your non-alcoholic sweetener with a sweetened liquor?  Medicinal magic.  You’ve just discovered the Margarita formula.  Let’s take a look at another round of recipes:

Margarita                                      Sidecar                                      Cosmopolitan
1.5 oz tequila                               1.5 oz brandy                              1.5 oz vodka
1 oz triple sec (or curacao)            1 oz triple sec (or curacao)            1 oz triple sec (or curacao)
.75 oz fresh lime juice                   .75 oz fresh lemon juice               .5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz cranberry juice

Here are three of the most popular cocktail of the 20th century, and they all use the SAME FORMULA.  So many cocktails use this formula, not just because it’s delicious, but because using a sweetened liquor will keep the alcohol content of your cocktail higher than just using a non-alcoholic sweetener.  A Kamikaze is just a Cosmo without the cranberry. A Pegu Club is a Margarita with gin instead of tequila and a dash of bitters.  A Corpse Reviver is a Pegu Club with the curacao split with Lillet Blanc, and absinthe instead of bitters.  A Papa Doble is… well… since it is National Daiquiri Day… let’s talk about that.

The Papa Doble, also known as the Hemingway Daiquiri (though there is contention), is one of my absolute favorite sours.  The fantastic Matt Robold (rumdood.com) has written a well-researched little article about the history of the cocktail if you’re interested.  Here is my personal recipe for this summer classic.

Hemingway Daiquiri
1.5 oz white rum
.75 oz Luxardo maraschino liquer
.5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice.

Shake. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with lime peel.

It makes me smile every time I drink one of these; just thinking about Papa sitting at the La Floridita bar enjoying (almost) the same cocktail.

So, there it is.  A basic introduction to the quintessential summer classic, the Sour.  Experiment with some of the formulas mentioned and see what you can come up with.  Who knows, you may create the next Cosmopolitan!

Next up in Part 3 of Drinking By Design, I’ll talk about pure spirits cocktails.  Martinis, Manhattans, and everything stirred.  As always, thanks for reading, and feel free to contact me with questions, concerns, and criticism!

Love and Libation!

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One Comment on “Drinking by Design – Part 2: The Sour”

  1. Joseph Tkach says:

    It’s worth noting that when a sour is sweetened with a liqueur instead of a syrup, it is called a Daisy. If you serve a sour up, it is called a sour, but if you pour it over ice in a rocks glass, it becomes a fix. If you serve it in a highball and top it with soda, it becomes a collins. If you omit the sweetener, then it is a rickey, and if you make a rickey, but replace the soda water with ginger beer, it becomes a buck.


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