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The Ultimate Aperol Sour

5 from 5 votes

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Aperol’s bittersweet citrus flavors shine in this easy Gin Aperol Sour. While some build this cocktail without the gin, I find the addition of a floral gin adds to the complexity and enjoyment of the cocktail.

To balance the cocktail, I added both grapefruit and lavender bitters. While you can make this cocktail without egg white or aquafaba the bed of foam makes for a beautiful presentation of this easy drink.

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What is an Aperol Sour (and What’s Aperol)?

Aperol Sour ina Coupe Glass with cardamom and orange chip garnish
Aperol Sour

Like any sour, an Aperol sour consists of spirit, sour, and sweet. But for this cocktail, we use Aperol, an Italian red bitter less aggressive than Campari as the main base.

Aperol is an orange-red bitter Italian aperitif with flavors from oranges, rhubarb, cinchona, and gentian. It’s a type of fortified wine with secret ingredients they won’t fully divulge, but it’s popular in summer drinks, especially the Aperol Spritz, topped with soda and prosecco.

I wanted more than just Aperol as the base, though, at 11% alcohol by volume. Aperol generally tastes citrusy and bitter, but not harsh. As a bittersweet liqueur similar to amarii its major notes to me are orange citrus, woody bitterness, and a touch of sweet vanilla. 

Because of the bright citrus notes in the Aperol, rather than adding vodka or whiskey, I wanted to play with the often floral and herbal taste of gin instead. Gin is often infused with both floral and citrus flavors, either through infusion or with a botanical basket placed atop the column still, it worked well, but I still wanted to increase the floral notes.

While the gin I used, Castle and Key’s Restoration gin, (a rye-based distillate infused at the distillery) had some chamomile and rosemary in it, I wanted a bright floral so I added Scrappy’s lavender bitters to the drink. I also decided to add their grapefruit bitters as well. I chose wisely.

How to Make the Cocktail

Aperol Sour ina Coupe Glass with cardamom and orange chip garnish
Aperol Sour

There are two ways to make a delectable head of foam on the top of a sour cocktail.

The first is a dry shake/reverse shake where you put your cocktail ingredients in a shaker, add one or two small ice cubes and shake vigorously. Next you fill the shaker with ice and shake again for 10-12 seconds to chill the cocktail and double strain into your cocktail glass.

Alternatively, you can use my “cheat” method with a hand-held electric latte whisk.

whisk end of milk frother for Boston Sour
Latte Whisk

To do that, simply put the recipe ingredients in the cocktail shaker, shake until well chilled, 10-12 seconds, then double strain into another shaker and use the handheld whisk on it for about 20-30 seconds. Then pour into your chilled cocktail glass.

If you want more on the history of the whiskey sour, head over to my article How to Make a Classic Whiskey Sour. While I prefer the whiskey sour in general, there are days when a gin sour is the only thing I want to sip on. Part of it is the beautiful orange-red color, but most of it is sitting down with a smooth, citrusy, slightly bitter sour.

What to Do if You don’t have Aperol

Aperol Sour in a coupe glass with a hawthorne strainer and jigger nearby
Aperol Sour

While Aperol is available worldwide (with the ubiquitous Aperol Spritz cocktail) if you’re not a fan of Italian cocktails and spirits, you might not have any at home. The best substitution would be Campari.

Campari’s bitter bite and higher alcohol content will affect the balance, but you can easily fix that by reducing the amount of Campari you use to 1 oz.

You’ll probably need to reduce the bitters as well, especially the grapefruit bitters since Campari is much more bitter than Aperol.

How to Make this a Vegan Sour

While egg white foam makes this cocktail silky smooth and delectable, you can absolutely use a vegan-friendly method to get that gorgeous foam and softened flavor.

The easiest substitution is to use aquafaba instead of egg white. Aquafaba sounds fancy, but it’s simply the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas (or from cooking chickpeas if you make your own). It’s nearly flavorless and contains the same protein structures that allow egg whites to foam up and sit atop of lovely sour.

If you’d prefer to step away from using aquafaba, try some of the commercially available foaming agents like Fee Brother’s Fee Foam or Ms Better’s Bitters Miraculous Foamer (available in Canada and UK).

Other Cocktails You Might Enjoy

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Aperol Sour 

Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktailHeather Wibbels
Treat yourself to a tart, bitter, citrusy sour with this Aperol Sour featuring gin, Aperol, floral bitters, grapefruit and lemon juices, and egg white. It’s a lighter take on my usual whiskey sours, full of tart bitter flavors softened and sweetened with the egg white and the Aperol. For a bigger bitter bite, try Campari instead of Aperol.
5 from 5 votes
Course Drinks
Cuisine cocktail
Servings 1

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 oz Aperol
  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Scrappy’s grapefruit bitters optional
  • 1 dash Scrappy’s lavender bitters optional
  • 1 egg white optional, but it makes it pretty
  • Garnish: dehydrated orange chip

Instructions
 

  • Combine Aperol, gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters and egg white in a cocktail shaker and add two cubes of ice.
  • Shake for 30 seconds.
  • Fill with ice and shake for 10-12 more seconds.
  • Double strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with dehydrated orange chip. For an easy hack to better foam see the article above.
Keyword aperol, boston sour, egg white, gin, grapefruit, lavender, lemon
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on January 21st, 2021
Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktail

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey enthusiast (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching and designing cocktails, drinking cocktails, and teaching cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location

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6 thoughts on “The Ultimate Aperol Sour”

  1. 5 stars
    I love Aperol. I discovered it on a trip to Venice a few years ago where they mix it with proscecco. Gin is also a favorite of mine so I can’t wait to try this fun aperol sour cocktail! Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

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