Sour? In a cocktail?

Australian World Class Ambassador Natalie Ng says some drinkers may not actually know what sour tastes like. “Many people still find it hard to tell the difference between sour and bitter,” she says. Bitter is a back-palate experience, a taste associated with green leaves, cocoa powder, and roasted black coffee. Sourness is based on acidity – think citrus fruit, natural yoghurt, Granny Smith apples and tamarind – and gives a tingle to the sides of the mouth.

“Many famous cocktails fall under the sour family, such as Whisky Sours, Margaritas and Daiquiris,” says Ng. But there’s limitless possibilities in making new cocktails or rearranging older ones to be on the sour side.

Ng says the easiest and most reliable way to make a good sour cocktail is using seasonal fruits. “Lemon and limes are most often used, but you can also play with other interesting citrus fruits,” she says. These include white or pink grapefruits, mandarins, kumquats and yuzu. “What is in season will taste the best. Extract the juice as close as possible to when you want to serve your cocktails.”

Traditionally Ng would balance a sour cocktail with a hint of sweetness, but having a bold sour experience also has its place. “Cocktails that have a predominant element of sourness or zestiness are exceptional palate starters and cleansers,” she says. “Sourness promotes salivation. So it’s always great to have one before a meal. It pairs well with fresh, vibrant dishes like ceviches or oysters. They’re also great after something very bold, or oily and fatty in flavour. They reset your tastebuds.”

Here’s three Natalie Ng sour cocktail recipes to try at home:

Thyme with Mr Walker

Serves one. Approx. 1.6 standard drinks

40ml Johnnie Walker Black Label 
10ml Lagavulin 16-year-old whisky
500g honey
500ml water
8–10 dried apricots
7–10 sprigs of lemon thyme 
2 lemons
Sprig of thyme

Place honey, water, apricots and lemon thyme in a pot and bring to boil. Once boiled, take off heat and let cool for an hour. Peel one lemon and set aside. Juice both lemons and add 30ml of juice into a cocktail shaker along with 15ml of the honeyed water and whisky. Shake well and double strain into a chilled rocks glass. Add ice, garnish with lemon peel and thyme. Serve. 

Sweet and Sour Pour

Serves one. Approx. 1.4 standard drinks

40ml Tanqueray gin
10ml Antica Formula sweet vermouth 
1 cup sugar syrup
3 strawberries, diced
30ml fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Egg white 
2 raspberries
Muddle strawberries at bottom of a cocktail shaker and add 10ml of sugar syrup along with remaining ingredients. Shake well without ice to emulsify egg white. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a coupe and garnish with two raspberries on a skewer.

Tiki Taki

Serves one. Approx. 1.2 standard drinks

40ml Bundaberg Small Batch
15ml Orgeat syrup 
2 sprigs of mint
20ml fresh lime juice
20ml fresh mandarin juice
2–3 dashes orange bitters
Soda water
Orange peel

Slap 4–5 mint leaves to release aroma and add to a cocktail shaker. Add all ingredients besides soda water, shake well and double strain into tall glass. Top with soda water and ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint and an orange twist.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with World Class.