Gin Sour Cocktail – Classic 1862 Jerry Thomas Recipe

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See our affiliate policy for more info.

Gin Sour vs Gimlet

The gin sour and gimlet are completely different and don’t share any of the same ingredients. The gin sour is traditionally genever, simple syrup and lemon juice while the Gimlet is dry gin, orange liqueur and lime juice. granted regardless of being completely different ingredient wise they taste somewhat similar. There is a taste difference but it’s not much.

Gin Sour Variations

There are many variations of the gin sour and cocktails that are very similar in taste. Your main variations are the gin sours with egg whites, gin daisy, gimlet, and gin fizz. The gin sour with egg whites is a gin sour that uses dry gin and egg whites, some of the earliest published records of this variation dates from around the 1950s. The Gin daisy is a gin sour with a bit of soda water to soften the sourness and the daisy style dates around the 1860s. The gimlet, as mentioned above, is a fancy gin sour that replaces the simple syrup with orange liqueur. The Gimlet dates from around the 1920s. The final variation is the gin fizz which is a gin sour with egg whites and soda water. The gin fizz is an amazing drink that is both refreshing and has a velvety texture. The gin fizz dates from around the 1880s.

To Add Egg Whites Or Not To Add Egg Whites

This has been the absolute single hardest cocktail to document and I try to keep my sources to only published books. Sometimes I use newspapers but I don’t give them much weight. The conclusion I have come to is a traditional gin sour, all sours for that matter, do not have eggs whites. Yes there were cocktails like the clover club or pink lady that had egg whites, or you can go back even further to the Fizz style cocktails from the 1880s that had egg whites. But not until the early 1950s am I able to find anyone use egg whites in a cocktail labeled a gin sour. Sour cocktails prior to the 1950s that used egg whites in this way all seem to have fun names and were presented as cocktails for the ladies. In the 1930s or 40s if a man ordered a gin sour and he was handed one with egg whites in it, he would probably be offended or think the bartender mixed his drink up with some woman’s at the bar. I looked through maybe 100+ books ranging from the 1880s to the late 1960s and this was pretty consistently what I found.

The earliest use of egg whites in a standard sour I could find was from King Cocktail by Eddie Clark. Who in 1947 was the successor head bartender to Harry Craddock at the Savoy. The 1955 official British Bartenders union cocktail book, The UKBG, also mentions using egg whites in sours, but both books say they are optional and not traditional. Assumedly egg whites were added upon request and not the normal way a gin sour was made. Keep in mind Harry Craddock, 1920 – 40s, did not make his sours with egg whites. All those cocktails had different fun names. Eddie Clark even grouped those fun cocktails in the “For ladies only” section of his book. Is this an example in”toxic”ated masculinity?

A Short History Of Sours

While a standard American style sour is most likely as old as the country itself, it actually traces its origins to the Age of Exploration. In the mid 1500s the Spanish Navy began preserving concentrated lime juice in high proof spirits that could last on long voyages as medication to fight prevent scurvy. These medications were known for being super sour and not tasting good. In the early 1800s there attempts at improving these into actually good drinks and one of these is the standard Sour cocktail of 2 oz base spirit, 1 oz citrus, and 1/2 oz simple syrup. This standard recipe still has its roots in the overly sour medication but by reducing the citrus by 1/3, you end up with a tastier product. Please enjoy this early gin sour pulled from the 1862 edition of the Bar-Tenders guide by Jerry Thomas.


Discover what classic cocktails you can make right now with the free and easy to use Vintage American Cocktail app.

Gin Sour cocktail – Classic 1862 Jerry Thomas Recipe

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American






Total time



Learn how to make a classic Gin Sour cocktail.


  • 2/3 oz Lemon Juice

  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup

  • 2 oz Genever


  • Combine all ingredients in the shaker. Add ice to the shaker.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Strain into glass to remove ice shards.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *