Drink the Book: Brandy Sour Recipe

Drink the Book: Brandy Sour Recipe

[Photograph: Marleigh Riggins Miller ]

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If absolutely pressed for a decision, I would say that sours are my favorite class of mixed drink. At once simple and versatile, a delicious sour can be made with any spirit base and the citrus of your choosing, any time of the year. If you really sit down and think about it, many of the most beloved drinks in everyone's repertoire are sours: the famed Whiskey Sour, Margarita, Sidecar, Daiquiri, Pisco Sour, even the Caipirinha. The style also appears to be a favorite of Kazuo Uyeda, and many cocktails from the sour family found their way into Cocktail Techniques.

Uyeda's hard shake technique lends itself to making a beautiful, well-mixed cocktail that easily balances the bite of spirits and citrus. The simplicity of the ingredients means that sours are great jumping-off point for beginners just starting to tend bar at home. No exotic or hard-to-find ingredients or advanced techniques are needed: just you, a shaker and some ice results in a tangy, delicious cocktail.

This sour uses brandy as its base. Though less common than bourbon, it has a similar level of sweetness, thus making it a great foil for lemon juice. A Brandy Sour is similar to a Sidecar but eschews the orange flavor of Cointreau for simple syrup to showcase the flavors of the liquor and lemon.

In general, whenever a recipe calls for brandy I use cognac, such as Prunier V.S., Pierre Ferrand Ambre, or Landy V.S.O.P., or a domestic alambic brandy such as Germain-Robin or Osocalis. The smaller the list of ingredients, the more you're going to taste the few there are, so this isn't a good place to use a brandy you wouldn't drink straight.

  • Yield:1
  • Active time: 5 minutes
  • Total time:5 minutes


  • ice
  • 1 1/2 ounces cognac
  • 2/3 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • lemon round for garnish


  1. 1.

    Add cognac, lemon and simple syrup to a shaker filled with ice.

  2. 2.

    Shake well and strain into a sour glass.

  3. 3.

    Add a single piece of ice and garnish with a lemon round. Serve.