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Entertaining
The 7 Best Sour Cocktails for Sweet Haters

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Sweet cocktails are a simple joy, but for more complex cravings, the ones that take hold of your tongue and just won’t let go, you need something sour. Whether or not it’s a proper member of the Sour family, it will cleave through your humdrum happy hour. These drinks will make your mouth pucker, your taste buds seize and your brain do somersaults.

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The Whiskey Sour could never fail. It tastes like an Old Fashioned, itself pretty much a perfect cocktail already, with the addition of lemon juice. While some variations call for egg whites, the vegan version here sticks to the bare sour necessities: booze, citrus, a bit of sugar to balance everything, and minorly festive garnishes like an orange slice and brandied cherry. The drink is straightforward sour satisfaction.

The Essentials

Whiskey
Simple Syrup
Lemon Juice
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A true Pisco Sour requires Peruvian limón, an acutely acidic relative to the limes most of us know and the key to Peruvian ceviche (if it can cook raw fish, it can blow your mind in a sour cocktail). Like drinking in technicolor, a limón-based Pisco Sour turns up the brightness on the South American spirit, while the traditional egg white and swirled bitters keep everything dry as a bone, even with the presence of simple syrup. Key limes make a viable substitute for those drinkers who don’t have access to fresh limón, and regular old limes will do in a pinch, but we highly recommend a jaunt down to Peru when your next sour craving hits.

The Essentials

pisco
bitters
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Apparently the good people of the Sunset Strip really liked sour cocktails back in the early 20th century. Not only did the Brown Derby inspire its neighbor, the Vendome Club, to invent a grapefruit-spiked Bourbon Sour named after the hat shaped bar, but it also contributed this fruity, citrusy drink to the world. Apple, orange and fresh citrus juice combine into an orchard of tart flavor, while Bénédictine adds an herbal edge that only enhances the lemon’s zippy pour.

The Essentials

Applejack
combier
benedictine
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Papa Hem took his drinks like he took life—unwavering, blunt and boozy. After tasting his first Daiquiri in Havana, Hemingway decided it was too sweet and weak for a macho writer and adventurer like himself. The bartender obliged his request to double the rum and cut the sugar, and he added grapefruit juice to up the ante even further. For us mortals, a small dash of simple syrup and a bit of maraschino liqueur make the sour beast palatable.

The Essentials

White Rum
Fresh Lime Juice
Fresh Grapefruit Juice
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When properly made, Margaritas are fairly sour to begin with (they are, after all, a variation on the classic Sour format), but adding some natural bitterness from your garden will add vegetal depth to that essential flavor profile. The rhubarb rosemary syrup in this garden-fresh recipe not only brightens the color of the classic cocktail with bright pink rhubarb, but it also incorporates the leafy stalk’s vibrant bitter nuance.

The Essentials

blanco tequila
St-Germain
rhubarb and rosemary syrup
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You may know the Amaretto Sour as a cloyingly sweet drink that your grandpa sipped in his study. This is not your grandpa’s Amaretto Sour (unless your grandpa is Jeffrey Morgenthaler). Based loosely on the master barman’s recipe, this improved rendition scales down the sweet liqueur to let the eponymous sour shine, but it also adds overproof bourbon to help boost amaretto’s desirable aspects. The only trick with this drink is learning to admit to people you like it.

The Essentials

Bourbon
Amaretto
Lemon Juice
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Sour lovers of the world, unite. All you have to lose is your sweet tooth. Gather your best sour-headed pals and make a big batch of this New York Sour punch. Made with lemon oleo saccharum for an extra complex citrus flavor (totally worth the extra citrusy labor), as well as lemonade, fresh lemon juice and lemon wheels, this big batch drink packs lemon on lemon on lemon.

The Essentials

Whiskey
lemonade
Red Wine

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