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Vodka Sour Recipe

The vodka sour has been around since at least the early 20th century, but it’s only recently become wildly popular.

It’s one of those cocktails that people have known about forever but never really paid attention to until they saw them on social media or read an article about how great they are.

How Much Vodka Do You Need For A Sour?

When I first started drinking vodkas in college (and yes, this was before Instagram), I always thought that if a cocktail called “vodka” had any purpose other than just being mixed into something else, then it wasn’t worth my time.

But as I learned more about mixing drinks, I realized that there were some pretty interesting combinations out there – ones where the spirit didn’t just serve as a mixer.

And so when I stumbled upon a vodka sour, I knew right away that I wanted to try making one myself.

I figured it would be easy enough to put together, given that I already owned all the ingredients, except for one thing: The amount of vodka needed.

There weren’t many resources available online about what ratio of vodka should go into an average vodka sour, but after doing some research, I found that most recipes used between 1/3 and 2/3 ounces per drink.

This seemed like a good starting point, and I decided to give it a shot using a 3 ounce glass measuring cup.

It took me a few tries to get everything balanced properly, which involved adding both water and sugar until I got a mix that tasted right.

Then, once I was happy with the taste, I added the rest of the ingredients and shook it up.

My final product looked nothing short of spectacular!

But now comes the hard part… How much alcohol can I actually use in order to make a perfect cocktail?

Let’s take a look.

How Much Lemon Juice Do You Need For A Sour?

There are two ways to make this drink.

The first way is by using fresh lemons in your glass.

You cut off the top of each lemon and squeeze out all of the juice into a shaker filled with ice.

Then add some simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar) and shake vigorously to combine everything together.

When you strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer over a large glass or metal cup, you can keep as many lemons as you like and repeat the process multiple times if necessary.

If you want to use store-bought lemon juice instead of squeezing lemons yourself, just be sure to dilute it down so you don’t get any extra tartness from the concentrated lemon juice.

The second method involves adding lemon juice directly to the mix when you pour the vodka and sugar into your mixing glass.

That way, you won’t have to worry about getting the correct amount of lemon juice into the glass.

To achieve this effect, place some lemon juice in a small bowl, then fill up your measuring cup with cold water.

Add enough of the water until it reaches 1/4 cup total volume — about 2 tablespoons.

Now stir the liquid in the measuring cup slowly while pouring the rest of the ingredients into the glass.

Keep stirring until the mixture becomes slightly cloudy.

Strain the mixture into another clean glass, and serve immediately.

This technique works well for non-alcoholic drinks too, so feel free to experiment!

If you have trouble finding the right amount of lemon juice for a sour, try making a test batch first.

Just measure out a few drops, then taste it. Adjust accordingly before proceeding.

How Much Sugar Do You Need For A Sour?

A lot of people assume that adding too many ingredients to their drinks will make them taste bad, but this isn’t necessarily true.

There are some things in life where more is better — like cheese or chocolate — while others are best enjoyed when there’s just enough of something on your tongue (like salt).

The same goes for sweet and savory dishes, so why not apply the philosophy of “less is more” to alcohol as well?

When making any drink, first determine what kind of flavor profile you want from your beverage.

Sourness tends to be a bit more subtle than sweetness, which makes it harder to overdo it.

If you’re trying to achieve a balance between sweet and salty flavors, then you may end up using less sugar than if you were aiming for something sweeter.

For example, if you wanted to create a nice, crisp soda pop, you might add a little extra sugar because it helps give the carbonation its desired texture.

But if you’re creating a vodka sour, you can use less sugar without sacrificing anything.

To figure out exactly how much sugar you should add to your vodka sour, we need to break down the different components and determine exactly how each affects the overall flavor.

  • Vodka: Vodka does two things for us here. First off, it adds a neutral base flavor to our drink. Second, it also acts as a solvent. When you mix alcohol into another liquid, the alcohol dissolves the other liquid. If you don’t dissolve the other liquid properly, you could wind up with bubbles floating all over your glass instead of a smooth drink.
  • Lemon Juice: Lemon juice provides acidity, which balances out the sweetness of the rest of the drink. Without the acid, the drink would taste very sweet and cloying. You can actually get away with using a tiny amount of lemon juice and still end up with a delicious drink. Just remember that you can always increase the quantity of lemon juice later if you find yourself wanting to tweak the flavor further. A good rule of thumb is to start by mashing half of the lemon peel with the zest before juicing the whole thing.
  • Simple Syrup: Simple syrup is a mixture of water and sugar. It gives the drink body and thickness. Adding a spoonful of simple syrup is also a great way to help keep your drink cool longer. Once again, if you feel like you want to adjust the flavor of your drink, you can try adding more simple syrup later.
  • Ice: Ice cubes are necessary for most alcoholic beverages. They allow you to chill the entire drink quickly and efficiently. In addition, they provide a nice crunchy texture that enhances the drinking experience. That said, even though ice is needed to enhance the flavor of a drink, you definitely don’t need tons of it. One cube per person is plenty.

How Much Ice Do You Need For A Sour?

One of the first things I look up when starting a new drink is what kind of glassware I should use.

The most common mistake I see in bars is using short glasses instead of long ones.

A standard-sized martini glass (which holds 5 ounces) will hold just enough liquid to fill your mouth without overflowing.

When making drinks like this, you want to be sure there’s room for all the ingredients.

If you don’t have enough volume, you won’t get a good taste from each ingredient.

You can also end up pouring too much into your glass if you put more than needed in the shaker because the excess will overflow onto your bar towel or countertop.

For the vodka sour, you need 1 ounce of liquid per 2 ounces of alcohol.

To make this calculation easy, divide both numbers by two.

That means you need 3/4 cup of liquid to create a 1-ounce shot of booze.

If you’re not familiar with measuring liquids, you may want to grab a measuring cup before continuing.

Alternatively, you could measure out exactly 4 ounces of liquid, then pour it back and forth between cups to add an extra half ounce until you reach the correct amount.

  • 1 ounce of liquor
  • 3/4 cup of water

Now we know that you need 1 ounce of liquid per 2 ounces of alcohol.

Divide both of these numbers together to find your total volume requirement.

In this case, it comes down to 7/8 cup of liquid.

To figure out how many cubes of ice you’ll need, take your desired temperature and multiply it by 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then subtract one degree to account for any ambient air temperature outside the freezer.

In our example, the temperature was 50 degrees F, so we would multiply that by 9 to get 45 degrees.

We’d then subtract one from that number to account for the fact that the ice was sitting inside a refrigerator.

So the final equation looks like this:

(50 * 9 – 1) = 44

44 – 1 = 43.5

43.5 x 8 = 350 grams of ice

So, for every 2 ounces of alcohol, you’ll need roughly 35 grams of ice.

You can always adjust the quantity of ice based on personal preference.

For instance, some bartenders prefer their drinks colder while others like theirs slightly warmer.

But generally speaking, you’ll probably want to keep ice weight under 40 grams per 2 ounces of alcohol.

What Type Of Glass Do You Need For A Sour?

There are several different types of glasses you can use when making a drink like this.

The easiest option is probably just going out and buying some nice-looking martini glasses from your local liquor store.

They usually come in sets of two so if you want more than one drink, you can buy four or six of these at once.

If you don’t feel like spending money, try using regular old wine glasses instead.

You could even go as far as getting rid of all your fancy stemware and mixing drinks in plastic cups or something similar.

If you’re looking for something fancier, there are plenty of options available online.

Some companies sell their own versions of the martini glass specifically designed for drinking mixed drinks.

Others will give you a set of glasses already filled with water which you can then fill up with whatever liquid you choose.

These glasses are especially useful if you’re not sure what kind of glass to use because they’ll help keep the temperature of any mixture you put into them consistent.

How Do You Make A Vodka Sour?

A good vodka sour can be made in minutes using common ingredients found in any kitchen.

But if you want to get fancy, there are several ways to customize your drink to your taste and preference.

Here’s what you should know before making a vodka sour.

  • Vodka Sour Recipe #1 – Classic Vodka Sour Recipe (Easy)
  • Vodka Sour Recipe #2 – Fancy Vodka Sour Recipe (Advanced)
  • Vodka Sour Recipe #3 – Bourbon-Infused Vodka Sour (Bourbon Flavored)

If you don’t like any of these recipes, check out our list of other delicious alcoholic drinks you won’t find anywhere else!

What Is The History Of The Vodka Sour?

You might be wondering where this drink comes from in the first place.

The original version was invented by Jerry Thomas, who wrote down his recipes when he opened up his bar, the Olympic Hotel, back in 1884.

He called his new creation “a gimlet-flavored liqueur (sour) containing brandy, water, sugar, lime juice, and bitters.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Thomas didn’t invent the term “gimlet” either, though.

That came from bartender David Embury, who used the word to describe the spirit inside the glass during Prohibition.

You can use any kind of gin or vodka here, not just Jameson—though we prefer to stick with Irish whiskey because it tastes better!

Over time, the ingredients changed, and so did the name.

In addition to the traditional lemon juice and simple syrup, many bartenders added orange juice instead of plain old water.

Others swapped out some of the other ingredients altogether.

There are now dozens of different variations on the theme of the vodka sour.

Some call for grenadine, while others add pomegranate seeds or even edible flowers.

There’s no set formula for making one, so if you want to play around, get creative!

If you haven’t had one yet, try mixing up a batch using our easy homemade vodka sour recipe below.

How Do You Serve A Vodka Sour?

A standard way to make a vodka sour is to pour equal parts of sweetened lime-flavored vodka into a tall glass filled halfway up with ice cubes.

Then add 1/3 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice (or more if you prefer) over top of the drink.

A few drops of bitters can be added as well, depending on your preference.

Finally, top off the drink with 2 ounces of club soda, shaken vigorously to mix everything together.

This may seem like a lot of ingredients for a single drink, so why bother making it this complicated?

The answer lies in what makes the vodka sour different from other drinks.

If you want to get technical, there are three main differences between the vodka sour and any other type of mixed drink:

  • It uses citrus instead of fruit juices or liqueurs.
  • It uses a sweeter spirit than most spirits.
  • It contains no sugar or honey.

Because of all these factors, using regular old orange juice would result in a very sweet and cloying drink.

In fact, many bartenders avoid adding anything else to their vodka sours because it will change the flavor profile of the cocktail too much.

Instead, they use something called “simple syrup,” which is basically just sugar dissolved in water.

What Are Some Variations Of The Vodka Sour?

There are many different ways to make this drink, so there’s no single right way to make one.

The most common variation calls for club soda instead of water in the glass, which can give it a more refreshing taste.

Some bartenders prefer to use sparkling wine instead of club soda.

You can also add other ingredients like fresh mint leaves or even fruit juices to change up the flavor profile.

If you want something less sweet than a traditional vodka sour, try using tonic water as your mixer instead of plain old water (which will be more bitter).

And if you don’t care for lime juice, you could always swap it out for another citrusy ingredient.

And then there are the garnishes.

You can choose from any number of fruits, herbs, spices, and nuts to top off your drink.

Some bartenders recommend adding a wedge of orange peel to enhance the orange flavor, while others suggest simply stirring in a few drops of orange oil before serving.

But whatever method you decide to go with, just remember not to overdo it!

Too much of anything can ruin a good thing.

What Are Some Tips For Making The Perfect Vodka Sour?

When you make a vodka sour, there are two main things that can go wrong: 1) You don’t use enough sugar in your drink (and by “you” I mean me), and 2) The alcohol burns before the sugar dissolves into your sweetened beverage.

If either of these happens, then you’ll end up with something that tastes like vinegar instead of a well-balanced cocktail.

To avoid this, follow these steps when creating a vodka sour:

  • Add all ingredients except the lemon wedges to a shaker filled halfway full with ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
  • Strain the mixture over fresh ice cubes in a tall glass.
  • Squeeze half of each lime wedge into the bottom of the glass, add more ice, and stir gently until combined.
  • Pour the contents of the shaker into the glass, top off with club soda if desired, and garnish with a slice of lime.

Vodka Sour Recipe

The vodka sour has been around since at least the early 20th century, but it’s only recently become wildly popular.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vodka Sour Recipe
Servings: 2
Calories: 114kcal


  • 2 oz. Vodka
  • 1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 lemon slice optional
  • 1 cocktail cherry optional


  • Combine the vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and angostura bitters in a cocktail shaker.
  • Close the shaker after adding Ice.
  • Shake for 10 to 15 seconds, then pour into an ice-filled rocks glass.
  • If preferred, garnish with a cocktail cherry and a slice of lemon.



Calories: 114kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.04g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 9mg | Potassium: 24mg | Fiber: 0.04g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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