Vodka Sour

This vodka sour recipe uses egg whites and a homemade sour mix to elevate a classic cocktail.
Vodka Sour Cocktail Recipe

A good vodka sour is a simple cocktail that is easy to make but hard to get right. This vodka sour recipe stands out because it uses our Fresh Sour Mix and adds a little egg white to create a frothy drink with a smooth texture and bright citrus flavors.

The best vodka sours have a nice balance between sweet and sour with an almost smooth velvety texture from the frothy egg white and feel refreshing to drink. It’s the type of cocktail that works as well at the start of a dinner party as it does at the end of a long day.

Vodka Sour Ingredients

A good rule of thumb when it comes to simple cocktails is to use as high a quality ingredients as possible. This is the type of drink where it’s easy to spot the difference between a sour mix made with freshly squeezed lemon juice and one of the neon green abominations from the discount aisle of the liquor store.

When choosing a vodka, use your favorite if you have one; otherwise, any good mid-tier or above vodka will work. Try and avoid flavored vodkas that will change the underlying flavor profile of the drink.

There are a few easy ways to elevate a vodka sour. Adding egg whites adds freshness and body, creating a more refreshing drink. Using fresh lemon juice provides a superior flavor and texture compared to bottled lemon juice. A few dashes of Angostura bitters add some complexity making this a cocktail you’ll want to mix up time and time again.

Sour Egg White Foam
The egg white adds freshness and body.

A better way to use egg whites in cocktails, rather than cracking an egg every time you want a drink, is to buy a small carton of egg whites that can be kept in the fridge.

The advantage to buying egg whites in the carton is they’re already pasteurized, which helps them last a long time, and they’re much simpler to measure and use.

How to Make a Vodka Sour

There are two different ways to mix sours. The first is to use a premade sour mix that combines fresh citrus, usually lemon or lime juice, with sugar and water. The other is to use a simple syrup along with freshly squeezed citrus juice. 

The advantage of the sour mix is it simplifies the process of making lots of drinks by having almost everything ready to go.

The advantage of using simple syrup alongside freshly squeezed citrus is that the ingredients can be used to make lots of drinks other than sours.

To mix a sour vodka cocktail, add the sour mix, vodka, and egg whites to a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Once the top is secure, shake vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds. Strain the drink into a glass with a few dashes of bitters.

We use our homemade sour mix in this recipe because it’s something we keep around the house and can be used to make everything from Mezcal Margaritas to sparkling lemonades.

Mixing Sour Cocktails

The most common way to make a sour cocktail is to start with a base spirit, such as whiskey, vodka, or gin. Then add some sour mix and egg whites to a cocktail shaker along with some ice. Then shake it like you mean it, strain it like you care, and sip it like tomorrow is a long way away. 

Other popular sour cocktail recipes include those for a Whiskey Sour, amaretto sour, pisco sour, and rum sour.

The more vigorously the cocktail is shaken, the more creamy foam you’ll get from the egg whites, which makes the cocktail more fun to drink and gives it a smoother texture.

We like to add the bitters after the drink has been strained into a glass to add a little contrasting color. The bitters can also be added before shaking to keep the snowy white foam looking pristine.

A note when it comes to shaking, most sour recipes encourage you to dry shake the cocktail. The dry shake method involves shaking the egg whites and other liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker twice. To dry shake, shake the ingredients without ice for 20 to 30 seconds. Then add some ice and shake the ingredients a second time to create more froth and foam.

We rarely dry shake cocktails because of the extra steps involved when making multiple batches, which involve emptying the ice and drying the shaker.

We did run some tests, and as you can see from the picture below, there’s very little difference in the amount of foam in the cocktail on the left that was dry shaken compared to the one on the right that was shaken once with ice.

Dry Shake Cocktail Test
The dry shaken cocktail is on the left. The wet shaken version is on the right.

What was interesting about this test is that the dry shaken foam was slightly sturdier with a more robust structure than the wet shaken version. The foam in the dry shaken version has an almost meringue like texture, whereas the texture in the wet shaken version was a little more velvety.

The reality is no one will be able to tell the difference when they take a sip how it was shaken, so we recommend using the wet shaken version, simply because it’s less messy and is one less step to do. 

Serving a Vodka Sour

There are a couple of different ways to serve vodka sours. The most elegant way is to serve it neat in a coupe glass. This is the way to go if you’re serving a bunch of cocktails all at once, and they’re meant to be drunk in a short period of time, for example, as part of a course at a dinner party.

Vodka Sour Cocktail
A touch of bitters adds some complexity to this smooth drinking cocktail.

The slightly more utilitarian way to serve them is in an old-fashioned glass with a large chunk of ice or a rocks glass, which is just a short glass with a funky name. This is the way to go if the drinks are going to be sipped over a long period of time or on a hot summer evening.

Vodka sours are best when served ice cold. The cold helps balance the sweetness from the sugar with the sourness from the lemon juice. It also smooths out the alcohol flavor from the vodka.

A few simple ways to garnish a vodka sour include a slice of lemon, a lemon twist, or maraschino cherry. The garnishes are often paired together on a toothpick that is elevated above the foam.

Once you learn how to mix up a basic sour, all you need is a proper stainless steel cocktail shaker, and you have a range of drinks that are easy to mix up and versatile enough that they are right at home at a lovely cocktail party or can be paired with whatever is being served for dinner.

Greyhounds and Bloody Marys are a few other classic vodka cocktail recipes worth trying. If you’re interested in more cocktail recipes like this one, check out 12 Classic Cocktails with a Twist and Umami’s Classic Cocktail section.

Vodka Sour Cocktail Recipe

Vodka Sour

4.3 from 6 votes
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Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail


  • 3 oz sour mix
  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz egg white
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters


  • Vigorously shake the sour mix, vodka, and egg white over ice in a cocktail shaker.
    3 oz sour mix, 1 1/2 oz vodka, 1 oz egg white
  • Strain the drink into a glass and add two dashes of Angostura bitters.
    2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • For a nice presentation, serve in a coupe glass and use a stir stick to swirl the bitters in a circle starting at the center and working your way out to create a nice pattern in the foam.
  • The vodka sour can be garnished with a lemon twist, lemon slice, or a maraschino cherry.


Vodka sour cocktails can also be served over ice in an old-fashioned cocktail glass.

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Making this RecipeTag us on Instagram at and hashtag it #umami_site
Calories: 113kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 47mg | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg

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