Santa Cruz Sour – Classic Recipe & History

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Santa Cruz Sour

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






Total time



Learn how to make a classic Santa Cruz Sour.


  • 2/3 oz 20 ml Lemon Juice

  • 1/2 oz 15 ml Simple Syrup

  • 2 oz 60 ml Gold Rum


  • Technique: Saxe Soda Shake
  • Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker.
  • Add one medium or two small ice cubes to the cocktail shaker and shake until the ice fully melts.
  • Without a strainer, pour the chilled and aerated drink into a glass with ice.
  • Garnish:
  • Orange slice


Featured Video

What Is The Difference Between The Rum Sour, Santa Cruz Sour, And The St. Croix Sour?

The rum sour, Santa Cruz sour, and St. Croix Sour are all the same drinks, and one name is not more correct than the other. Even though rum sour is the name used today, I went with the name Santa Cruz Sour because it’s the name used in the oldest cocktail book to reference it. The oldest name for this cocktail that I could find was Jerry Thomas’s Santa Cruz Sour in his 1862 edition of The Bartenders Guide. The reason he used that name was the island the very popular Cruzan rum used in the cocktail came from was St. Croix, but he used the original Spanish spelling of the island. Even into the early 1900s, the name of this cocktail was still the Santa Cruz Sour or the St. Croix Sour. St. Croix is the more modern French spelling of the island’s name, so some bartenders preferred to use that spelling instead of the older Spanish spelling. This cocktail wasn’t called the rum sour until around the 1930s when cocktails books began to group all sours as a general recipe. Most books say, “Sours are usually all prepared the same. The juice of half a lemon, one tablespoon of syrup, and 2 oz of any spirit. Gin, whiskey, brandy, rum, etc.”. The name Santa Cruz or St. Croix dropped, and the more generic term, rum sour, became common.

To Add Egg Whites Or Not To Add Egg Whites.

Historically speaking, if a cocktail was a simple sour, it did not have egg 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 using egg whites in a cocktail labeled a Sour. Sour cocktails before the 1950s that used egg whites in this way all seemed to have fun names and were presented as cocktails for the ladies. In the 1930s or 40s, if a man ordered a whiskey sour and were handed one with egg whites, he would probably be offended or think the bartender mixed his drink up with some women’s at the bar. I looked through maybe 100+ books ranging from the 1880s to the late 1960s, which 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. In 1947 Eddie Clark 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 usual way a whiskey sour was made. Keep in mind Harry Craddock, 1920 – the 40s, did not make his sours with egg whites. All those cocktails had different fun names. Eddie Clark even grouped those fun cocktails in his book’s “For ladies only” section.

A Short History Of Sours.

While a standard American style sour is likely as old as the country itself, it 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 and prevent scurvy. These medications were known for being super sour and not tasting good. In the early 1800s, there were 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 traditional 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 rum sour pulled from the 1862 edition of the Bar-Tenders guide by Jerry Thomas.

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