Bartender Re-education: The Sour
Spirit + (Lemon or Lime) + Sugar + Shake + Strain = Sour
I could have stopped there for the fastest blog post ever. That is just how simple the sour is. But, my growing disdain for barrel aged cocktails and self-important bartenders (irony and disdain aside, there are exceptions like Jeff Morgenthaler because he is handsome, talented and we can all learn a thing or two from him) has led me to start my bartender re-education program focusing on the basics.
When I’m behind the bar, and I want to show how great a simple drink can be when made correctly, the simple sour is the one I chose to showcase most often.
Slow down nerds, I’m not even talking about egg white in a sour, you can read about that here. I’m just talking about a 3 part sour, which is the drink that 99% of all guests want when they say,
“Uh, I don’t know, I want something not too sweet. I don’t like things that are too sweet.”
To which I respond,
“Well, most people don’t like the taste of cat piss, should I avoid that too? How about you tell me like what you like instead of what you don’t like?”
Or when I’m in a helpful mood I say,
Take any base spirit, gin, whiskey or EVEN VODKA and go 2 parts, to one part FRESH SQUEEZED juice to one part SIMPLE SYRUP. Then SHAKE and STRAIN over FRESH ICE or in a CHILLED GLASS. This recipe works every time and never fails and I have never had even the slightest criticism such as, “Well, it seems a bit pedestrian but it will suffice.”
As for sour mix, don’t. Seriously, there is no reason to buy or use a bottle of chemicals and artificial coloring. It’s a highly processed substitute for limes, sugar and water. Limes are fairly easy to squeeze, I’ve been through several thousand in my lifetime and seemed to suffer no ill effects or even “juicer’s arm.” Simple syrup can basically be made with hot water from the tap with an equal part sugar by volume. So that is pretty un-excusable to fuck up.
Even better than using a trusty base spirit like gin or whiskey, there is the magic of liqueurs.
“I, Andrew Bohrer, on a weekly basis, make an Amaretto sour for at least one guest in my bar, and they fucking love it.”
The liqueur sour works wonders in the exact same way: 2 parts liqueur to 1 part sour to 1 part simple syrup yields a cocktail balanced for a Cabbage Patch Kid. My amaretto sour still bowls people over, I’ll add a dash of bitters when I’m feeling fancy (always). But for less of a Care Bear Stare style sour, try this handy formula:
1 part base spirit-any- maybe GIN
1 part liqueur-any – perhaps MIDORI
1 part sour-lemon or lime- MAYBE BOTH
1 part sweet- SIMPLE SYRUP
STRAIN over FRESH ICE
Hell, throw a cherry on there.
Q: You know what you got?
A: The crowning achievement of 1980’s mixology, a drink fit for a Kardashian, the stately Midori Sour.
Remember the sour. It will save you. Even better than remembering the sour, give, “brown bitter and stirred,” a rest for 3 summer months and just give the people and yourself, what we all need: a simple sour.
Order one up this month.