How to Make Fresh Sour Mix for Cocktails

A Whiskey Sour made with fresh sour mix is easier to make than you might think. (Photo: Jim Barber/Shutterstock)

The Apricot Sour was the cocktail my mother drank on the rare occasion that she drank at all, and it was the first cocktail I ever tried. I walked right up to an open bar at a wedding in high school and asked for one. The bartender didn't bat an eye. He made me one, and then he made me another, and then ... that was it. I spent the rest of the night dancing away. In college, I discovered the Amaretto Sour, which at the time was made with a cloying, syrupy sour mix. It was like drinking liquid candy. It wasn't until I was much older that I discovered that sour mix didn't have to come in a large plastic jug.

Sour mix is simple to make and using fresh sour mix in a cocktail makes a completely different cocktail than the shelf-stable stuff you find at the store. If you can juice some lemons and limes, you can make sour mix. You'll find that different recipes call for different ratios of citrus to simple syrup. I like my drinks with a nice pucker, so I use a ratio of about 1.5-part lemon/lime to 1-part simple syrup. Some people use a ratio of 1:1. It all depends on if you want more sweet or more sour.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: About 1 cup


  • 2 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
  • 2 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 3.5 oz simple syrup


  1. Combine fresh squeezed juices and simple syrup, mix until well incorporated.
  2. Pour into a bottle with a lid.
  3. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Cocktails That Use Sour Mix

Simple whiskey, apricot and amaretto sours are a combination of the spirit and the sour mix served over ice. You'll need to experiment with ratios to see how much of each you like. They're usually topped with a cherry. There are other, more complicated cocktails that are made with sour mix, too:

Sour mix is a good thing to have on hand if you want to mix a cocktail quickly or if you're going to be making a lot of cocktails at one time. Making the sour mix earlier in the day or the day before will save you juicing time during the event.