What Is a Bourbon Sour?

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  • Written By: Angie Bates
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 26 October 2019
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A type of whiskey sour, a bourbon sour is a kind of alcoholic mixed drink which combines bourbon with a sweet and sour mixture. A premade sweet and sour mix can be used or one can be homemade. Bourbon sours are usually served cold without ice but may be served over ice. They are usually garnished with fruit slices.

Although any type of whiskey can be used for a whiskey sour, a bourbon sour only uses bourbon whiskey. In addition to the liquor, lemon juice and white sugar or a premade sweet and sour mix are generally included. Sugar is often superfine, to aid in dissolving, but granulated sugar may be added instead. Some versions may alternatively include powdered sugar.

Variations on the basic bourbon sour may simply use another fruit juice or may be more creative. One version, the grapefruit bourbon sour, replaces not only the lemon juice with grapefruit juice, but also the sugar component with honey. This version is slightly more time consuming than other versions of the drink because the honey must be heated with water to form a thinner syrup before it can be combined with the other drink elements. Another version adds bacon syrup instead of the sugar element, creating a truly unique version of the traditional bourbon sour.


Since the liquor and other ingredients are simply poured into an alcohol shaker with ice and shaken to mix, a bourbon sour is normally easy to create. After mixing, the chilled liquid can be strained into a glass, usually a tumbler, leaving the ice behind. Alternatively, the mixture can be stirred to combine. When stirred, the bourbon sour is usually served over ice. If honey is used instead of sugar, the honey syrup is normally added to taste after the juice and alcohol are mixed.

The final element of a bourbon sour is the garnish. Garnishes are usually placed on the rim of the glass or speared on a toothpick and placed in the liquid. Usual garnishes for this drink are lemon or orange slices or maraschino cherries. If other fruit juice is used for the sour component of the drink, a slice of that fruit made be used as garnish instead.

More unusual versions may have other garnishes. For example, a bacon bourbon sour is garnished with a cooked slice of bacon, which is laid over the top of the glass. Garnish is normally purely aesthetic, however, and so can often easily be omitted.


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