How to Make Lemon Sour Mix at Home

Skip store-bought sour mix in favor of making lemon sour mix at home — the result will be a simple, fresh mixer that can be used in many boozy beverages.
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Lemon sour — also referred to as "bar mix" or "sweet and sour mix" — is a non-alcoholic mixer that's simple to make at home.

Your at-home version will be cheaper — and taste fresher — than commercial mixers.

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To make it, you'll just need simple syrup (aka sugar and water) and citrus. You can mix up this sour concoction ahead, too, because it'll keep for a week, or potentially even longer, in the refrigerator.

And once you have lemon sour on hand, you'll be able to incorporate it into a variety of cocktails.

This simple recipe is courtesy of Michele Tell, CEO of Constellation Spirits & Wine Catering in Las Vegas and founder of the PR%F Awards, a spirits, wine and beverage competition.

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Homemade Lemon Sour Recipe

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

  • Zest from 1 lime (optional)

  • Pot

  • Spoon

  • Strainer

  • Container

Step 1

Combine water and sugar in a pot. Tell's mixologists opt for organic cane sugar. "Dissolve the sugar slowly, in three parts just to perfect the texture," Tell says.

If you're using it, add the zested lime at this point.

Step 2

Heat until boiling.

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Step 3

Lower the heat to a simmer and slowly stir with a spoon until the sugar is dissolved.

Step 4

Remove the pot from the heat. Add freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice to the mixture.

Step 5

Pour the lemon sour mix into a container using a strainer to avoid getting pulp or zest in.

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Step 6

Place the mixture in the fridge.

Tip

This recipe has more lemon than lime in it, which will reduce the lime's bitter flavor, Tell says. Other recipes may opt for equal proportions of lemon and lime juice — adjust the proportion to suit your taste buds.

You can also use other citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and blood orange, in place of the lemon and lime.

How to Use Lemon Sour

With a batch of sour mix on hand, you can use it in many homemade cocktails.

To keep it simple, you can mix your favorite hard liquor with your homemade lemon sour mix, like in this Whiskey sour recipe and this Vodka sour recipe.

You can also add garnishes like an orange slice, lemon slice, rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs, a cinnamon stick or whatever else you have on hand.

If you have a cocktail shaker and a bit more time on your hands, try your homemade lemon sour in the following beverages:

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