Vodka Sour Recipe

vodka sour cocktail with ingredients

Try this vodka sour if you love a spirit-forward cocktail with a great balance of bright and tangy flavors. And while the traditional vodka cocktail calls for lemon as its sour base, I wanted to use fresh calamansi from my garden that’s in season during the winter. Use my tips and tricks on getting the foamiest egg-white topping and other citrus varieties. 

What is a vodka sour?

The vodka sour is a relatively new drink made in the 20th century that progressed from sour cocktails. The British Navy first created the latter to help prevent and fight off scurvy. Some of the oldest written recipes are from the 1800s and use different liquors like gin, rum, or brandy as a base for various sours. 

Vodka sour ingredients

vodka sour ingredients, syrup, juice, bitters, egg whites, vodka

Vodka sour uses a simple list of ingredients:

  • vodka
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • rich simple syrup 
  • pasteurized egg white
  • Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Traditionally, this recipe calls for citrus, primarily lemon or lime, to make the juice sour. However, I like using Asian citrus (from my backyard!) like calamansi or yuzu to give it a bit of a twist from the original recipe and to add some dimension.

Rich simple syrup is a ratio of 2 parts sugar to 1 part water heated in a pan until the sugar dissolves. This type of syrup differs from classic simple syrup because it’s double the sugar. 

If you want an even easier cocktail, you can also buy vodka sour mix at your local liquor store–however, you may still need to add egg white if you want the foamy topping. 

Bar tools required

bar tools: shaker, strainers, citrus press, spatula

Here are the tools required to make a vodka sour, which are pretty standard items for a bar kit:

  • Citrus press
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Jigger (or measuring cup)
  • Hawthorne strainer (a flat strainer with a removable spring)

While the Hawthorne strainer is optional, I used the removable spring from the strainer and placed it inside the shaker to help agitate the egg whites and create a fluffier topping–think of this like an internal whisk. There was less foam when I made the cocktail without the spring, and it fell flat faster after I poured it out. 

I use a citrus press to squeeze calamansi because it’s easier than individually squeezing each ball. Just make sure to strain out any seeds. 

Dry shaking and wet shaking tips

shaking a cocktail

When making this cocktail, it’s best to shake the ingredients in two parts: a dry shake and a wet shake. Dry shaking helps to emulsify the egg and create a thicker foam at room temperature. Adding ice to the first shake will prevent the foamy egg effect we want and dilute the drink too much. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of how to make a vodka sour:

  • Step 1 – Dry Shake: Mix all the ingredients WITHOUT ice to help create a better foam with the egg whites for 30 seconds. 
  • Step 2 – Wet Shake: Add the ice and shake for another 10 seconds to chill the drink. 
  • Step 3 – Strain and serve

Note that dry and wet shaking can be messy because of the gas and pressure produced. I was using a cobbler shaker with a jigger lid at the top of the main lid, so I opened the jigger lid first to reduce gas build-up before opening the shaker. I also had a hand towel to clean up spills when opening the shaker. 

Why are these drinks called “sours”?

calamansi fruit closeup

Vodka sours are called “sour” because that’s the flavor they produce. A well-made vodka sour has a balanced, tangy flavor–not too sour that it’s hard to put down, but not too much simple syrup where you don’t taste the citrus and acidity.

What is the difference between vodka sour and vodka Collins?

vodka sour top with dehydrated citrus

Other sour drinks mixed with vodka are vodka collins and a lemon drop. The difference between a vodka sour and a vodka Collins is that a vodka Collins includes club soda. Vodka Collins has a bubbly consistency and is also poured into a tall glass and drunk with a straw. Vodka sodas have an egg-white foamy texture on the top and are often in shallow or short glasses. Lemon drops have more sugar and the addition of Triple Sec liquor.

vodka sour recipe icon

Vodka Sour

5 from 1 vote
Learn how to make a vodka sour that uses this Philippine citrus and has an extra foamy topping.
BY: Huy Vu
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 2 minutes
Total: 17 minutes


Rich simple syrup

  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp water

Vodka sour (one serving)

  • 3 fl oz vodka more if you want a stronger drink
  • 1 ½ fl oz freshly squeezed calamansi juice or other citrus
  • ¾ fl oz rich simple syrup
  • ¾ fl oz pasteurized egg white
  • ice
  • 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters optional
  • dried calamansi wedges optional topping

Equipment Used

  • Mason jars with lids
  • Citrus press
  • Strainer
  • saucepan
  • Spoon
  • Cocktail shaker
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • Hawthorne strainer
  • 8 oz glass


Rich simple syrup

  • In a saucepan on medium heat, combine the water and sugar. Stir until dissolved and slightly thickened, about one to two minutes.
  • Transfer the simple into a mason jar or another container and let cool on the counter for at least 10-15 minutes. You can also make this ahead of time and place it in the refrigerator until it’s time to make your cocktail. The simple syrup lasts for one month in the refrigerator.

Vodka sour

  • In a cocktail shaker, add the vodka (with additional vodka if you prefer), calamansi juice, simple syrup, bitters, and pasteurized egg. Add the spring removed from the Hawthorne strainer. Cover with cocktail shaker lid. Shake for 30 seconds.
    shaking vodka sour
  • Remove the lid and add ice. Add the lid again and shake for another 20 seconds.
    adding ice to shaker
  • Use a strainer to pour the drink into an 8 oz glass.
    pouring shaken vodka sour into glass
  • Add calamansi wedges on top and serve immediately.
    vodka sour fruit topping
Nutrition Facts
Vodka Sour
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Beverage
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cocktail, dinner party, drinks
Did you cook this recipe?Tag @HungryHuy or #hungryhuy–I’d love to see it!

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