The SoCal Sour, a Bourbon Cocktail

by formerchef on January 27, 2016

Post image for The SoCal Sour, a Bourbon Cocktail

Do you know the difference between Whiskey and Bourbon? I’ll admit, I had to look it up.

Bourbon has not always been my drink of choice, but I’m developing an appreciation. In the past I’ve posted cocktails with tequilagin, and even pisco, but bourbon is new for me. And please don’t ask me for anything with vodka. It’s been more than 25 years and an unfortunate incident with vodka and orange juice in my freshman year of college has turned me off the stuff forever (though my Bloody Mary Mix is one of my all time most popular posts).

Here’s the thing to remember about bourbon; all bourbon is a whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon. Bourbon whiskey is untique to the United states and 99% of it comes from the state of Kentucky. Bourbon is made from at least 51% corn (usually more) and aged for at least two years in charred oak barrels. Whiskey can be a blend of grains and is also made in Scotland (called “Scotch” whisky (with no “e”), Ireland, Canada, and Japan. To complicate matters more, some American whiskies are not bourbon (like Jack Daniels) because it is made using sour mash. Confused yet? Don’t worry. For the purposes of this cocktail, you can use any kind of American whiskey. I wouldn’t necessarily make it with Scotch because the typical smoky and peaty flavor of single malt Scotch might overwhelm the drink.

What is a “sour” when it comes to cocktails? A drink with sour in the name typically has lemon juice and simple syrup. The addition of egg white (as in a Pisco Sour) is optional.

SoCal Sour, a bourbon cocktail with orange and rosemary.

SoCal Sour, a bourbon cocktail with orange and rosemary.

Did you make the orange syrup I posted about in the Verdugo Sunset cocktail? If so, great! We’re going to give it another use here. Winter here in the Northern Hemisphere is citrus season, so now is the time to make a big batch of this syrup to use in cocktails and mix with soda water.

I named this a SoCal Sour because both rosemary and oranges grow in abundance in Southern California and this is what I have available to me right now. Feel free to adapt to what ever works for you and let me know how it comes out.

So Cal Sour, a Bourbon Cocktail


  • 2 fl oz bourbon
  • .5 fl oz lemon juice
  • 1 fl oz orange syrup (see notes at bottom of post)
  • Rosemary sprigs
  • Orange peel


  1. Pinch off a few leaves of rosemary off the sprig (5-7 pieces) and put them in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the lemon juice, and orange syrup and crush the leaves briefly with a muddler. Add the bourbon.
  2. Fill the cocktail shaker with ice about half full. Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds to chill the drink.
  3. Pour into an Old Fashioned glass with a large cube of ice. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a curl of orange peel.

Some tips: The orange syrup used in this cocktail is the exact same recipe as the grapefruit syrup used in my Pisco cocktail, the Sacred Valley, just substitute 5 large oranges for the 3 grapefruit in the recipe. If you don’t want to make it, you can substitute fresh orange juice and simple syrup, but it won’t be quite the same.

If you can, use a large ice cube for the ice in the glass. The ice melts more slowly so the drink doesn’t get diluted as fast. I use an inexpensive silicone ice tray like this one; large cube silicone ice tray. Regular ice is fine (and preferred) in the shaker.

For this drink you’ll need a cocktail shaker and a jigger for measuring. They don’t have to be fancy or expensive (the ones I have are just like these in the links) but I do prefer using them. I like the consistency and extra coldness of a shaken drink and the precision of using the jigger for measuring.

I finally got myself a muddler as well, but if you don’t have one, you can use the end of a long wooden spoon. (Some of the links above are amazon affiliate links; you don’t have to buy, they’re there for example, but if you do shop, it helps support this blog and the cost is the same, regardless)

SoCal Sour, a bourbon cocktail with orange and rosemary.

SoCal Sour, a bourbon cocktail with orange and rosemary.

1 Susan D January 27, 2016 at 9:50 am

I have lemons, oranges, and a big old rosemary bush in my yard, but I have never been a fan of rosemary, I consistently leave it out of recipes that call for it. Anything I can use as a substitute?

2 formerchef January 27, 2016 at 12:05 pm

You might try thyme or basil.

3 Pam Valente January 27, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Looks delicious but it was the bloody mary that got me!

4 formerchef January 29, 2016 at 10:23 pm


Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: