Gin Sour – Recipe from Jerry Thomas ‘The Bon Vivants Companion’

Use small bar glass 

THE gin sour is made with the same ingredients as the gin fix, omitting all fruits, except a small piece of lemon, the juice of which must be pressed in the glass.


Use small bar glass 

One tablespoon full of sugar. 

One-half a wineglass of water

One-fourth of a lemon. 

One wine glass gin.

Fill two thirds full of shaved ice. Stir with a spoon and ornament the top with fruits in season.

This is a recipe which changes a little over the three main printings, the 1862 and 1928 versions are identical, the 1887 version goes way off piste, adding in loads of those unwanted ‘fruits in season’ to the Sour, I always find it strange when people ‘update’ books by people who have passed away, it screams of commercialism to me, and makes little sense outside of this. Its nice to see that with Herbert Asbury’s guiding hand this recipe has returned to its original form.

It also clearly shows the real difference between a Sour and a Fix is that a Fix is over shaved ice, a Sour neat, and of course all those silly ornaments. Its also interesting to see ‘water’ as an addition to a drink, something we’d almost be a little aghast about these days, can you imagine how you’d feel if you noticed the bartender making your drink ‘watering’ it down? And yet it works perfectly in this drink, the proportions are right, I used half a lemon to 75ml Gin, and using a nice crisp London Dry (I guess it should really be Hollands – must get some for my home stash) it makes the perfect Gin Sour. Of course.