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Sweet Versus Sour: Sour Cocktail Specs from Different Bars

This post is part of a mini-project looking at sweet and sour elements in cocktails, sponsored by PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur.

Sweet versus sourI asked bartenders on Facebook how they prepare their simplest Sour cocktail, like a Daiquiri, that calls for a base spirit, lime juice, and simple syrup. The goal was not just to get a Daiquiri recipe but the house standard measurements for Sour cocktails in general. 

I made sure to collect everyone's simple syrup recipe as that makes all the difference. The ratios are of sugar to water, so that 1:1 is equal parts by volume sugar and water, and 2:1 is two parts sugar to one part water. 





Sour Cocktail Spec

Simple Syrup Spec

Rich Heider II 

Market Street Kitchen 

Scotsdale, AZ    

2 parts strong, 1 part sour, 3/4 sweet

1:1 syrup or a mix of syrup and cordial

Jonathan Smolensky     

Hawksworth Restaurant    


50 ml Rum, 20ml Fresh lime, 15ml syrup

1:1 cane syrup

Adrian Biggs 

La Descarga     

Los Angeles    

2 strong, 1 sour, 2 x barspoons fine sugar


Andrew Marks     


San Francisco    

2 OZ. white rum, 1 OZ lime, 0.75 simple 


Brett Robert Winfield 

Seven Grand San Diego

San Diego

Whiskey Sour - 2oz Bourbon, .75oz Fresh Lemon Juice, .75oz Simple Syrup, 1 egg white


1:1 Evaporated Cane Sugar


(via Jacob Briars )

Venus Bar

Santiago de Cuba

2 Bacardi, 1 lime, 2 barspoons sugar


Ian J. Adams   

15 Romolo

San Francisco    

2 oz white rum

1 oz fresh lime juice

.75 oz simple syrup


Luuk Gerritsen 

Vegas 360


60 ml White Rum, 30 ml fresh lime (Venezuela/Colombia), 20 ml simple syrup. For local customers I increase the syrup by 10 ml

2:1 simple syrup (hot method)

Chris Elford 



8 : 3 : 2, or 2 oz strong, 3/4 sour, 1/2 sweet


Karl Goranowski 

Scott & Co.


2 spirit 3/4 sour 1/2 sweet


Travis Nass

The Last Drop 

Phoenix, AZ    

1.5 oz Spirit .75 oz Simple, .75 oz citrus


Morgan Schick     

Trick Dog

San Francisco

2 rum, 1 lime, 1/2 simple


Brian MacGregor


San Francisco

1.5 rum, half a lime, 1/2 simple

1:1 evaporated cane juice

Tom Walker

American Bar at The Savoy


60ml rum, 30ml lime, 15 ml syrup


Lee Potter Cavanagh

Big Easy


50ml rum, 35ml lime, 25ml syrup

2:1 by weight or 5:3 by volume white sugar

Kevin Bragg

Seven Lamps


2 oz rum, .75 lime, .75 syrup




As you can see, the specs vary but they largely hover around equal parts of (1:1) sweet-to-sour, with some more sour than sweet and some more sweet than sour.

Typically we'd expect all cocktails that have sweet and sour elements at a given bar to follow about the same proportions/sweetness level of the bar's standard Sour. 

Not mentioned previously is the fact that everyone is using different limes. A bar's limes may come from different countries (and change countries throughout the year following the seasons), be shipped a long distance or be locally sourced, and can vary in tartness from the beginning to the end of the season. 

When balancing sweet and sour in a cocktail using fresh citrus, bartenders must seek out a consistent level of sweetness in their drinks, but how much of each ingredient it takes to reach that level may change throughout the year. 


Pama imageThis post about sweet and sour is sponsored by PAMA,  a pomegranate liqueur with a unique balance of sweet-to-tart you can read more about on the website. Follow @PAMAPros on Twitter!


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