The Aperol Sour is a wonderful cocktail for spring and summer, with plenty of fresh citrus, botanical notes, and an eye-catching cloud of fluffy foam on top.
Reminiscent of the Amaretto Sour, the Aperol Sour takes a sweet liqueur and makes it the focal point of the drink (rather than a spirit like whiskey or gin).
The key with a sour-style cocktail that makes a liqueur the main event is to be sure to balance all that sweetness with plenty of fresh citrus. It also benefits tremendously from adding an ounce or so of complementary spirit to the mix.
In this case, it’s most often paired with gin, but I actually prefer to make my Aperol Sour with tequila! Tequila and mezcal are great with the bright, citrusy, mild Italian bitter Aperol. Of course, you can go traditional with gin, or even get creative and use another spirit of your choosing.
Why sours use egg whites
Sour-style cocktails often include egg whites for several reasons:
Texture and mouthfeel
Adding egg whites to a sour-style cocktail creates a velvety and silky texture. When shaken vigorously, the proteins in the egg white create a frothy foam that adds a smooth and creamy mouthfeel to the drink.
Balance and mellowing
The addition of egg whites can help balance the acidity and tartness of the sour ingredients (such as lemon or lime juice) in the cocktail. The proteins in the egg whites can soften the sharpness of the citrus, creating a more rounded and harmonious flavor profile. It also tones down any harsh flavors from the drink’s spirits.
Egg whites can also enhance the aromatics of a cocktail. As the foam is created and released, it can carry and accentuate the scent of any garnishes or aromatic ingredients used in the drink.
Lastly, the frothy foam created by the egg whites gives the cocktail an attractive and visually appealing presentation. It adds an appealing layer of texture and can make the drink more visually enticing.
The Aperol Sour typically includes egg whites to creates a silky texture and a creamy froth to the top of the drink. However, you can easily make this cocktail egg-free and vegan by using aquafaba or another non-egg cocktail foamer.
What aquafaba is and how to use it
Aquafaba is the liquid found in cooked, canned chickpeas or the liquid leftover after cooking dried chickpeas at home. It has gained huge popularity as a vegan alternative to egg whites in cocktails and other culinary applications. Aquafaba has similar properties to egg whites, allowing it to create great foam and provide a creamy texture.
When using aquafaba as a substitute for egg whites in a sour-style cocktail recipe, the general guideline is to use 1/2 – 1 ounce of aquafaba per cocktail. It’s best to start with 1/2 ounce and adjust accordingly to achieve the desired texture and foaminess. Some might find 1 ounce of the bean liquid to affect the taste of the cocktail too much. Unlike egg whites, aquafaba does have its own flavor, so keep that in mind.
Aperol vs. Campari
Although Aperol is often compared with the other famous Italian bitter, Campari, the two are quite different.
Aperol is known for its bright orange color and it has a unique taste that can be described as bittersweet, herbaceous, and citrusy. It’s exact ingredient list is a secret, but we do know it’s made with gentian and rhubarb.
The remaining botanicals lend flavors that lean citrusy, a little floral, and slightly herbal. In general, Aperol is quite mild, light, and very sweet. To me, the most prominent flavor is orange or tangerine.
Campari, on the other hand, is powerfully bitter and while it is also citrusy, it has considerably more depth of flavor and herbaceous notes. Campari has prominent notes of bitter orange peel, herbs, and spices. It has a complex and distinctive taste that can be both refreshing and challenging. It’s also syrupy sweet, although the sweetness pales in comparison to its bitterness!
Ingredients for a perfectly balanced Aperol Sour
Be sure you have fresh lemons and an egg on hand, as well as a batch of simple syrup (or some sugar to whip up a quick batch).
- Fresh lemon juice
- Tequila (or gin, if you prefer)
- Simple syrup
- Egg white or aquafaba
- Pinch of salt
Like I said earlier, I love to use an ounce of blanco tequila in my Aperol Sours, but gin is the traditional choice. Go with your personal preference – it will be delicious either way.
How to get the perfect fluffy foam on top
There are a few schools of thought on how to create the best cocktail foam. The default method is the “dry shake” – just shake your cocktail really hard and for a really long time but without ice. Then, once you’ve built up the foam, add ice and shake to chill the drink.
Another popular method is the “reverse dry shake.” With this method, you add all of the ingredients except for the egg white to a shaker, add ice, and shake until chilled. Then, you strain out the ice, add the egg white, and shake hard to whip up that foam.
With both of these techniques, the last step is to strain the liquid into a chilled coupe glass and garnish. I’ve tested both types of shaking many, many times, but the results are inconclusive. So try both methods and see which you prefer.
I do find that the foam seems to have tinier bubbles and be a bit smoother when using the reverse dry shake technique. However, I also find that the specific cocktail ingredients can play a role in how well the foam forms. If there are particles of any kind in the drink, it’s harder to create bigger foam.
Why this is the best Aperol Sour recipe ever
My Aperol Sour varies from the majority of recipes you’ll find on the internet for three reasons: the ratio of ingredients, the use of tequila for greater depth of flavor, and a tiny pinch of salt to make all of the flavors really pop!
How to garnish the cocktail
An Aperol Spritz can be garnished with an orange twist or an orange slice. I prefer to use an expressed orange twist for maximum aroma. By expressing the peel over the drink, the fragrant orange oils land on top of the foam, giving each sip a burst of fresh citrus flavor. It really makes a huge difference, don’t skip the garnish!
Bonus points for crafting your twist into a fancy shape and sitting it on the rim of the glass! Learn all about citrus garnishes in my Guide to Citrus Peel Garnishes.
You might also enjoy these other summery Aperol cocktail recipes:
- Nordic Summer (Aquavit & Aperol Cocktail)
- Naked & Famous (Mezcal Cocktail)
- Quick Guide to Gin (and Gin Cocktails)
- 5 Rosé Cocktails for Summer
Perfect Aperol Sour Recipe
- 2 oz Aperol
- 1 oz tequila or gin, if preferred
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1/2 oz simple syrup
- 1 egg white
- pinch of salt
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake WITHOUT ICE for at least 30 seconds to build the foam.
- Once nice and frothy, add ice and shake until chilled.
- Strain the liquid into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an expressed orange twist.