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Cocktail Stories: Amaretto Sour

Some say the classics are sacred ground, but American bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler argues that the Amaretto Sour was crying out for an update.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler on transforming the Amaretto Sour into a “respected cocktail”

“The original recipe had a bad reputation; it was just amaretto and sour mix, so there wasn’t really much to it,” says American bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler.

Morgenthaler, bar manager at Clyde Common and Pepe Le Moko in Portland, Oregon, wanted to change the fortunes of this classic mixed drink and transform it into a “respected cocktail”. He came up with his own twist on the recipe; one that he claims is the “best Amaretto Sour in the world”. For his take on the cocktail, Morgenthaler kept the bottled sour mix as far from the finished drink as possible. “If the classic recipe called for just amaretto and sour mix, it’s pretty obvious that this needed to change,” he says.

In place of the sour mix, his recipe calls for “fresh lemon juice and rich simple syrup”, a syrup made with two parts sugar and one part water. He also adds “a little cask strength Bourbon and some egg whites for a creamy mouthfeel”.

Double shaking the cocktail whips up the egg whites, making the drink light and silky. Morgenthaler’s addition of cask strength Bourbon helps support the amaretto, which he says “isn’t strong enough on its own to stand up to a bunch of other ingredients”.

According to Morgenthaler, his changes create a “much more classically constructed cocktail”. He says: “I use fresh ingredients and proper proportions, so my recipe is stronger, brighter and, most importantly, less sweet.”

Since creating his version of the Amaretto Sour, Morgenthaler says he has seen the recipe spread as an increasing number of cocktail bars around the world serve his take on the tipple.

He says: “From what I’m seeing, most craft cocktail bars around the world are using some adaptation of my recipe. This is great to see, and of course makes me super happy and proud.”

Click through to the next page for a list of ingredients and how to recreate the Amaretto Sour at home.

Amaretto Sour


45ml amaretto

20ml cask strength Bourbon

25ml fresh lemon juice

1 tsp rich simple syrup

15ml fresh egg white, beaten


Method: Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and hard shake them without ice. Add ice to the shaker and hard shake once more until chilled. Fine strain the drink into a rocks glass filled with cubed ice and garnish with a twist of lemon peel and a brandied cherry.

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