Best Sour Mix for Whiskey Sours, Margaritas

Published ~ January 14th, 2020 | Updated ~ January 12th, 2021
Author ~ Carl Busch
Tags ~

Before you make a great cocktail, you need great ingredients. Sometimes the most essential drink components are the ones people overlook. Sour mix is one of them.

Most people will reach for a store-bought bottle of sour mix when they make their Margarita, Whiskey Sour, or Long Island Iced Tea. Making your own is inexpensive, far superior to anything already bottled, and easy to make.

Homemade Sour Mix Recipe

Making your own sour mix at home is ridiculously easy and takes less than 20 minutes. You can adjust the recipe to your liking, but we go with this because it suits our tastes.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 8 ounces of freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 ounces of water
  • 8 ounces of sugar

Instructions

  1. Combine lemon juice, lime juice, and water into pot and bring to a boil
  2. Add sugar and bring back to a boil
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer for 15 mintues

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Lemon / Lime Squeezer

Lemon / Lime Squeezer

That is it. There is no guesswork, and it takes no skill to make. Not that you need to tell your friends that. Let them marvel at your drink-making skills. Then make them some grade-A Margaritas, Daiquiris, Shark Bites, or Whiskey Sours.

If that still seems like a lot more work than you're willing to do, you can skip steps three and four altogether. You can use your freshly-made sour mix right as soon as the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is brought back to a boil.

Remember that when you combine your ingredients in the shaker, it will melt the ice more quickly if you don't let it cool. So, if you use it right away, your cocktail will be a little more diluted. We recommend giving it the cool-off period.

What is Sour Mix

What exactly is a sour mix, though? You've probably had it a million times but never really thought about what it is. A sour mix is just a simple syrup with lemon and lime juice. It is used to help balance drinks or give them a tart flavor profile.

But, wouldn't buying it from the store require less effort? Maybe. At what point is easier better, though? Sure, grabbing a bottle off of a shelf is less difficult than boiling water, but adding water, juice, and sugar to a pan isn't hard to do.

If you don't want to squeeze lemons or limes, lemon and lime juice concentrates are sufficient alternatives. They will still make a better sour mix than store-bought, but we think fresh is best.

Why is Sour Mix Important

Every good cocktail is balanced, which means all of the ingredients work together to bring out each other's best characteristics. The basic formula to create cocktails requires balancing 3 components: liquor, sour, and sweet.

A good sour mix is important because it provides the sweet and sour elements and shines a light on the cocktail's spirit without overpowering it.

In addition to flavor, improving your drink's texture is a reason to use a quality sour mix. Most drinks with sour mix should be shaken. Shaking opens up and incorporates flavors in the beverage.

It also improves the mouthfeel of the cocktail. Sour mix takes on a frothy texture when this technique is used, especially when paired with an egg white. This makes the cocktail feel almost creamy on the tongue.

6 Sour Mix Review

Not all store-bought sour mixes are bad. I've compiled a list of 6 of the highest-rated or most well-known mixers on the market. I'm going to break them down by price and ingredients, then give you that company's description of the sour mix they've created.

  1. Cocktail Crate - Classic Whiskey Sour Mix

    • Price - $12
    • Size - 12.7 oz
    • Ingredients - Filtered Water, Cane Sugar, Orange Juice, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Aromatic Bitters
    • Their Description - A perfectly balanced mix of fresh-squeezed orange and lemon juice, simple syrup, and classic aromatic bitters. Our Classic Whiskey Sour mixer pairs well with all aged spirits. Bourbon and Rye are delicious and classic pairings but mix up some Dark Rum or Cognac sours, and your friends and family will be raving about them for years to come.
  2. Royal Rose - Organic Sour Mix

    • Price - $18.99

    • Size - 16 oz

    • Ingredients - Organic Unbleached Sugar, Filtered Water, Organic Lime Juice, Organic Lemon Juice

    • Their Description - Here is the key to the best margaritas, lemonades, and citrus-based desserts! Our no-frills Real Organic Sour Mix is simply organic sugar, lime juice, lemon juice, and water. Made from scratch in Newcastle, Maine, this syrup provides the perfect harmony of sweet and sour.

  3. Twisted Alchemy - Lemon Sour Fresh Cold Pressed Craft Mixer

    • Price - $25

    • Size - 25.4 oz

    • Ingredients - Cold Pressed GMO-Free Eureka Lemons, Water, Organic Cane Sugar

    • Their Description - The must-have-on-hand Eureka Lemon Sour Craft Mixer creates unmatched whiskey sours, lemon drops, and lemonades, to name a few. The juice of the lemon is composed of about 5% citric acid, with a pH of around 2.2, giving it a sour flavor profile. Its distinctive taste makes lemon juice a key ingredient in food and beverage.

  4. Lava - Premium Authentic Sweet & Sour Mix

    • Price - $13.99
    • Size - 33.8 oz
    • Ingredients - Purified water, Sugar,Raw blue agave nectar, Lemon Juice

Lemon Oil, Lime Juice, Lime Oil, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Lemon Pulp, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, 0.1% Sodium Benzoate & Potassium Sorbate(to protect color), Turmeric(for color)

  • Their Description - Made from real ingredients, so you get the REAL citrus fresh-squeezed experience with big flavors and no harsh artificial bite, no overly sweet candy taste, and no neon yellow glow in the dark drink other brands leave you with. Not here. What you get is a perfectly balanced experience and extremely versatile sweet & sour mix to make the perfect whiskey sour, long island iced tea, margaritas, lemon drop martini, daiquiri, and many more.
  1. Mr. and Mrs. T® Sweet & Sour Mix

    • Price - $5.32

    • Size - 33.8 oz

    • Ingredients - Water, Cane Sugar, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Acacia Gum, Potassium Sorbate(preservative), Natural Flavors, Polysorbate 60, Ester Gum, Sodium Metabisulfite(preservative), Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1

    • Their Description - Mr. & Mrs. T® Sweet & Sour Mix has a made-from-scratch taste for a Life Well Mixed.

  2. Finest Call - Premium Sweet and Sour Mix

    • Price - $4.49

    • Size - 33.8 oz

    • Ingredients - Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Lemon Juice from Concentrate, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Sodium Benzoate (to preserve freshness), Sodium Citrate, Sodium Metabisulfite (antioxidant - contains sulfites), Polysorbate 60, FD&C Yellow #5

    • Their Description - A precise blend of pure lemon juice with all-natural essential lemon, lime, and orange oils, combined with simple syrup, creates one of the most versatile mixers in the world. It is vital for daiquiris, margaritas, and any and all sour cocktails.

You'll find that the cheaper mixes have a lot more added ingredients than juices, water, and sugar in these comparisons. Many of these make them shelf-stable, which is fair because homemade sour mix only stays good for about a week in the fridge.

But, you can add 2 oz. of plain ol' vodka to extend the life of your mixer. Usually, adding vodka will keep the mix good for about a month, but it probably won't last that long.

On average, both lemons and limes have about 1 ounce of juice in each. Obviously, this depends on the fruit's size, but it's a good starting piece of information. For our recipe, this means you'll need 8 of each fruit.

This is obviously the most expensive ingredient, considering water and sugar are reasonably cheap. When we make our sour mix, the ingredient price comes in under $10, depending on what time of year it is and which grocery store we decide to buy our fruit.

There are so many choices for sour mix and other mixers that it's easy to just pick up a bottle. But, we encourage you to try making your own and tasting the difference for yourself.

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