Vodka Sour Cocktail Recipe
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This Vodka Sour recipe is an incredible and refreshing drink that can be enjoyed on any occasion. It’s simple, easy to make, and highly flavorful. With its zesty citrus nature, the vodka sour has a supreme balance of sweet and tart flavor with an additional frothy texture.

The vodka sour is a remake of the classic whiskey sour. Its key ingredients are vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg whites. You can add other ingredients like bitters or garnishes to enhance the flavor of your cocktail and increase its visual appeal.

What makes the vodka sour a famous cocktail? The balance of ingredients, its simplistic nature, and its rich history. Keep reading to learn more about the vodka sour, making it, and what ingredients you can substitute to give it your unique flavor.

What Does Vodka Sour Taste Like?

Vodka Sour Recipe Drink Cocktail

Vodka Sour tastes sweet and tart due to its lemon base and simple syrup mix. Vodka is traditionally flavorless, so most of the flavor of a Vodka Sour comes from the lemon, simple syrup, and the Angostura bitters. 

Hence the name Angostura bitters; these cocktail additions can be pretty bitter. Angostura bitters are a mix of spices and herbs like cinnamon and cloves. These flavors add an additional spice element to the drink that contributes to the taste’s complexity and aids in its sourness.

Additional flavors of vodka sour, like cherry, will yield a sweeter drink that will balance out the tart lemon flavor.

What’s in a Vodka Sour?

Vodka Sour Ingredients are relatively simple. You just need vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg whites, Angostura bitters, ice, and garnishes. Most garnishes for a vodka sour are Maraschino Cherries, lemon wedges, or rosemary. 

You can switch up the ingredients as you like, but these are mandatory if you’re going for a traditional recipe.

What Qualifies as a Sour?

For a beverage to qualify as a sour, it must have a base spirit mixed with either lemon or lime juice. A sour will also have a sweetener to balance the drink, like sugar or simple syrup.

Sometimes egg whites are added to sour drinks. However, egg whites are not required for it to be a “sour” cocktail. Lemon or lime juice paired with base alcohol constitutes a sour.

Why Should You Add an Egg White to a Vodka Sour?

You should add an egg white to a vodka sour because it constitutes a traditional ingredient. It can add additional flavor and texture to your vodka sour. The egg white turns into a foam once you shake the drink, and contrary to popular belief, your drink won’t taste like egg.

The foam adds a layer of smooth texture and richness to the drink that it traditionally wouldn’t have. The egg foam is also visually appealing as it adds a literal extra layer to the drink. Just like meringue adds a sweet layer to a pie, so the egg white foam is a bonus to the vodka sour or any sour cocktail, for that matter.

Vodka Sour vs. Whiskey Sour. What’s the Difference?

The difference between vodka sours and whiskey sours are the spirits they use. A vodka sour is made with a vodka base, and a whiskey sour is made with a rum or whiskey base. 

Since vodka is primarily flavorless, vodka sours will taste more tart because of the intense lemon presence. Additionally, some people describe vodka sours as tasting more neutral than whiskey sours since vodka has a plain taste.

Whiskey sours traditionally taste sweeter because of the rum included in the drink. If you don’t like your drinks as sweet, you can add a dash of carbonated water to your whiskey sour to diminish the sweetness. 

Where Did the Vodka Sour Come From?

Two Vodka Sour Drinks with Lemon and Cherry

The vodka sour recipe is a derivative of the original whiskey sour. The whiskey sour was first officialized in 1862 when it was published in Jerry Thomas’ The Bartenders Guide. However, the drink was popular long before 1862.

The whiskey sour first came about due to sailors in the 1800s. Alcohol was a thirst-quencher for many sailors due to the lack of clean drinking water. To stay hydrated, many sailors resorted to drinking different types of alcohol. Additionally, alcohol made long sea ventures more tolerable.

Since scurvy, a condition caused by a Vitamin C deficiency, was a widespread ailment among sailors, the sailors eventually started bringing large quantities of citrus fruit on board, such as lemons, limes, and oranges. Citrus fruit is high in Vitamin C, so consuming it would help combat scurvy.

The whiskey sour was an ingenious way to keep the sailors hydrated and help them maintain proper levels of Vitamin C due to the lemon element of the drink. The drink was popular at sea, and it continued to gain notoriety when it made its way to the mainland. 

There have been several offshoots of the whiskey sour, including the New York Sour and the vodka sour.

Is Vodka Sour Considered a Girly Drink?

While some have traditionally viewed vodka as a women’s drink, it’s heavily enjoyed by men and women alike. The whiskey sour is also considered one of the top “manliest drinks” by some. This perception could be due to its history among sailors or the fact that whiskey is traditionally known as a manly drink.

This vodka sour recipe is a derivative of the whiskey sour, and because both men and women enjoy vodka, it remains a gender-neutral drink. Additionally, since alcohol has nothing to do with gender, both men and women are free to drink what they like.

Tips for Making a Great Vodka Sour

Vodka Sour with Cocktail Shaker and Jigger

One of the best tips for making an excellent vodka sour is the ratio of ingredients. Too much lemon and the drink will be too bitter. If you use too much vodka, the cocktail will be too potent. The key is to balance all the ingredients to get the best taste.

Try to create an equal balance of citrus and simple syrup when making this beverage. You don’t want one flavor to overpower the other. 

Ingredient Substitutes

Like with almost any recipe, you can substitute some ingredients in your vodka sour to change the taste and texture or suit your dietary needs.

Substitute Eggs for Aquafaba in Your Vodka Sour

If you have an egg allergy, or you just don’t like the idea of drinking raw egg, you can substitute the egg whites in a vodka sour for aquafaba. Aquafaba is the water that chickpeas and other legumes have been cooked in. One of the easiest ways to get aquafaba is to use the liquid in canned chickpeas by draining it. You could also cook the chickpeas yourself and use the remaining water.

To get the same consistency as egg whites, you’ll need to whip your aquafaba. Opt to use a hand mixer instead of manually whisking to save time and energy. It can take several minutes for the aquafaba to reach a usable texture, so you’ll need to mix it for about five minutes to get the right consistency.

Swap Your Simple Syrup With Granulated Sugar in a Vodka Sour

Making a simple syrup can be time-consuming. If you’re in a pinch for time, replace your simple syrup with plain sugar. For every half-ounce of simple syrup, use a teaspoon of granulated sugar. Using sugar instead of a syrup can change the texture by making the drink a little thinner.

Add Grenadine to Your Vodka Sour

To make a cherry vodka sour, add grenadine to your mix. Although many people believe grenadine is cherry juice, it is not. Grenadine is made from pomegranates. However, it acts as a sweetener and gives drinks their red appearance.

Grenadine is made from a pomegranate, sugar, and lemon juice mix. These citrus flavors work well with a vodka sour to complement its lemon base. The grenadine is sweet, but it won’t overpower the drink. 

Grenadine is used for many cherry-flavored drinks and substitutes even though it doesn’t contain cherry. To make a cherry vodka sour, add half an ounce of grenadine to your drink mix and shake. You can top the drink with a maraschino cherry, a lemon wedge, or a combination of both.

Swap Your Lemon Juice for Lime Juice in Your Vodka Sour

Trade out your lemon juice for lime juice to create a vodka gimlet. You can also remove the egg whites and bitters when adding the lime juice for a tangy variation of the traditional vodka sour cocktail. 

A classic gimlet uses gin. However, by replacing the lemon juice with lime juice and removing a few additional elements, you can have a variation of the traditional gimlet and a spin on the conventional vodka sour cocktail.

Vodka Sour Recipe


Vodka Sour Cocktail Recipe with Maraschino Cherry

Perfect Vodka Sour Recipe

The Vodka Sour is a variation of the classic Whiskey Sour cocktail. This drink has both sweet and sour elements to it. It also uniquely uses egg whites to create a frothy topping of white foam at the top of the drink.
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Drink Type: Cocktail
Main Alcohol: Vodka
Keyword: Bitters, Lemon, Simple Syrup, Vodka
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1


  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Rocks Glass


  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice Fresh
  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Egg White
  • Maraschino Cherry (garnish)
  • Lemon Wedge (garnish)


  • Add Vodka, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Angostura Bitters, the Egg White to the Cocktail Shaker (don’t add ice yet)
  • Shake vigorously for Around 15 Seconds. This Will Help Turn the Egg White into Delicious Foam
  • Add Ice and Shake Cocktail for Another 30 Seconds
  • Strain the Drink into a Rocks Glass
  • Garnish with Maraschino Cherry and Lemon Wedge

Bartender Notes

  • You can substitute 2 tablespoons of aquafaba for an egg free option.
  • Try adding some grenadine to add a cherry flavor to your vodka sour.

Final Cocktail Thoughts

The vodka sour is a spin on the timeless whiskey sour. The cocktail is laced with history and stands the test of time for a reason. By replacing the whiskey with vodka, you get a more neutral and less sweet drink that you can add your own twist to. 

Because the drink contains so few ingredients, it’s easy to find substitutes if you need them. You can trade the egg whites for aquafaba, simple syrup for sugar, or make a cherry version of the traditional cocktail. A vodka sour is a fantastic summer cocktail enjoyed by men and women alike.

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