in Cocktails

A better Amaretto Sour

I’m pretty sure I was introduced to the amaretto sour in college by my roommate’s girlfriend. I liked it—because I like amaretto—but I had the vague notion that it was kind of a simple, overly-sweet drink even back then, and they mostly fell off my radar. After I got introduced to craft cocktails in the 2000s, sours didn’t exactly come roaring back. Sour mix is probably responsible for more meh cocktails than anything else behind the bar at your favorite chain restaurant. It’s Country Time lemonade as a syrup. And liqueurs are great with dessert, but not so great as cocktail foundations.

But nothing demands the Amaretto Sour must suck. You just need to make it stronger and less sweet, and dump the sour mix. My recipe is mostly Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s without the egg white, because I am not a professional bartender and I do not keep egg whites around for cocktails.


Amaretto Sour

1½ oz. amaretto
¾ oz. high proof bourbon
1 oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup

Shake up with ice, then strain into an old-fashioned glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a cherry.


I use Baker’s bourbon (107 proof) and Knight Gabriello amaretto, which I think has a better flavor than DiSaronno and is a couple bucks less. I’ve upped the simple syrup a little because I’m not using “rich” (2:1 sugar:water) syrup, but that’s an “adjust to taste” thing.

I also remember, back in college and just after, having a few Midori sours. I suspect we can apply the same principle, with a different base spirit—Navy strength gin, perhaps?—but I haven’t tried. Yet.

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