Like a fancy or upscale version of margarita, the tequila sour is a classic cocktail to make when you want to switch up your cocktail game a little bit. Move over, marg - we're throwing pinkies up for taco night!
A traditional 'sour' cocktail is one made with a base liquor, citrus juice, and a simple syrup or other sweetener. These are old recipes that have been around for a long time - like pre-Prohibition era long time.
The two most common sours in the family of sour cocktails are a whiskey sour (bourbon, lemon juice, sugar, egg white) or a pisco sour (brandy, lime juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, bitters).
But the tequila sour is, in my opinion, the underdog here. A slightly more upscale version of a margarita, if you will. A margarita can tend to use a whole schlew of ingredients - you'll see anything from triple sec to orange juice to lime juice to sour mix mixed into a margarita.
(Not my classic margarita recipe, of course - that one just has 4 ingredients!)
There are a few different takes on the tequila sour out there, but from my research, it seems the traditional recipe tends to include tequila, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, and a dash of bitters. Super simple, super easy, super delicious.
Three types of tequila
When making tequila cocktails, it's important to know about the different types of tequila and how they will affect your drink. Tequila lovers will tell you that each provides a different flavor. So which type of tequila should you use?
All tequila starts from the agave plant. There are three main types of tequila - blanco, reposado, and añejo.
Blanco tequila is the youngest version - often bottled right after distillation, and used in drinks like margaritas and palomas, the flavors are lighter in nature - agave, citrus, and grass notes.
Reposado tequila is aged between two months and one year. Reposado translates to "rested" and usually has deeper notes of vanilla and caramel.
Añejo tequila is aged one to three years in oak barrels. It often has a smoother mouth feel and a richer flavor, with flavors of dried fruits and warm baking spices.
As with all spirits, however, can be affected by a lot of factors, including the region the agave came from, the barrels it was aged in, and how it is stored.
When choosing a tequila for your tequila sour, just keep in mind what each of these will taste like and how they will affect the flavor of your drink. And for the love, don't buy the cheapest tequila you can get. Get good tequila, as it's the main ingredient here!
What goes in a tequila sour
The simple ingredients in a tequila sour are:
- lemon juice
- sweetener (I use agave syrup)
- angostura bitters (or orange bitters)
- egg white
I highly recommend using fresh lemon juice if possible, as this will step up your tequila sour game. You can always use bottled if you don't have any fresh on hand!
You may also see some recipes that use fresh lime juice. In my opinion, lime juice, tequila and agave is just...a margarita. Lemon is more traditional, and is what I used here.
How to separate out an egg white
There are a few different ways to separate your egg white from your yolk. I'm sort of a traditionalist when it comes to this in the kitchen - I use my egg shell.
To do this, you're going to crack the egg, then carefully separate it, keeping one end upright so the yolk stays in it like this.
From there, you just gently transfer the egg yolk back and forth between the two halves, and the egg white will fall right out.
Now, if you want to get fancy, there are a number of tools out there that are sold specfically for this purpose. This pig egg separator would probably make someone in your house laugh.
You can also get stainless steel or plastic versions of egg separators. Or, if you want to experiment, you can try the water bottle trick, where you use a water bottle to suction the yolk out.
(And, if you're looking for something to do with your extra egg yolk, I highly recommend this paleo chocolate lava cake recipe!)
How to make a tequila sour
To make this tequila sour recipe, there are really just 2 steps - add all the ingredients with no ice and shake, then add ice and shake again.
Wondering why you would shake it with out ice? Good news - I was just about to tell you!
How to make egg white foam
Tequila sours are a shaken cocktail commonly served topped with a frothy foam, traditionally made out of egg whites. This foam is created in a two step process, which sounds complicated but really isn't.
First, you're going to start with what's called a dry shake method. This is the step where you combine all your ingredients in a cocktail shaker, but do not add ice.
Obviously a bunch of liquid in a shaker is anything but dry, but for whatever reason this is what it's called. The science behind it is that when there's no ice in it, it helps to emulsify the raw egg whites and results in a beautiful foamy frothy head on your cocktail.
Once you've given it a good dry shake, then you add ice to the shaker and shake vigorously again until everything is nice and cold.
Ew. Raw eggs?
Yes, this recipe does use raw eggs. They create that creamy layer of foam on top which is essential to the drink. If you are not comfortable adding raw eggs to your cocktail, you can still make this tasty drink!
You'll need a can of chickpeas. Measure out 3 Tablespoons of the liquid from the can per egg white, and follow the recipe instructions the same way. This liquid is called aquafaba and will act as a substitute for egg white, resulting in a refreshing cocktail with no raw egg in it.
How to serve a tequila sour
When you search sour drinks, you'll see they're often served in these funny looking little glasses that have a short stem and a wide bowl. They're called coupe glasses. I'll be the first to admit, it's not a common glass that you'll just have lying around the house - you'd need to purchase it specifically to serve these drinks, unless you're someone with a fully equipped bar at home.
Do you need coupe glasses to make these? No. But the way they are shaped influences the way you drink it, and the way the egg white hits your lips.
If you don't have a coupe glass, a martini glass would be your next best bet. You're looking for something with a fairly wide mouth and a shallow bowl.
I grabbed mine at World Market for $7 apiece - they're not expensive, and they make the drink feel extra fancy. Grab a few for your next dinner party and surprise your guests with this classic drink with complex flavor and a touch of sweetness.
- 2 oz tequila
- ½ oz lemon juice
- ½ oz agave nectar
- 2 dashes angostura bitters
- 1 egg white
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
- Open the shaker, add ice, then shake again for another 10-15 seconds.
- Strain into a coupe glass, top with a cherry, and serve.
Remember to do your dry shake first! This is where you do NOT add ice to the cocktail shaker. You shake all the ingredients, then add ice and shake again for the wet shake. Don't short this step. Either set a timer or count to 30, but make sure you get enough time on the dry shake, or your egg white won't separate properly.
If you aren't comfortable drinking raw egg whites, you can substitute aquafaba - the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Measure out 3 Tablespoons per egg white and follow the recipe the exact same way. Fluffy foam on top; no raw egg!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 195Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 60mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 10gProtein: 4g
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