Sour Mix, Anyone?

Thank you, God, for sweet & sour mix.

Thank you, God, for sweet & sour mix.

Welcome to another edition of "Let's Make Fun of the Ingredient List."  Today's target?  Sour mix.  Sour mix is a mixture of simple syrup (that we already know not to purchase) and citrus juice.  You blend them together until you get the perfect balance of sweet and sour.   Sour mix's whole name is Sweet and Sour Mix.  See how easy this is.  The name of the mix pretty much tells you how it should taste.  It should taste sweet.  And sour.  Rocket science, people--I'm telling you.

I got into a friendly argument with a friend who used to be a Bartender Extraordinaire.  He insisted that there should be some egg white in sour mix--for body and foaminess.  I don't think he used the word foaminess, but you get the idea.  So, I guess I could see whisking in some powdered egg white, but that's as far as I would go.   Some commercial mixes have gone Much Farther.

Let us train our little eyes on the back of the Mr&Mrs T Classics:  Sweet & Sour Mix bottle and see how far they will go to achieve their perfect balance of sweet and sour.

  • Water--okay
  • High fructose corn
  • Citric Acid--for tartness.  I think the citric acid is playing the part of the citrus juice.  Thank you, citric acid.
  • Sodium Citrate--Also standing in for "real fruit."
  • Sodium Benzoate--I just came back from reading about this stuff.  It's a preservative, but it's also put in silver polish.  I guess our insides will be bright and shiny after drinking this.  Thanks, Mr. & Mrs. T.
  • Gum Acacia--This controls viscosity and can get foamy.  So, gum acacia plays the role of egg white.  Don't worry.  It's perfectly edible, even though it's used in ink.  Wikipedia says so.
  • Polysorbate 60--This is an emulsifier.  Not sure what it's holding together.  But, there it is.
  • Natural Flavors--Hooray!  Maybe this is where the, you know, actual fruit comes in?
  • Sodium Metabisulfate--A preservative.  If you have sulfite issues, this is one, so look out.
  • Ester Gum--Hello, Ester.  Thanks for joining the party.  Ester is another emulsifier.  She's multi-talented.  She is also in eye liner.  Way to go, Ester Gum.
  • Calcium Disodium EDTA--Wow!  I thought Ester was a multi-tasker.  She doesn't have anything on Cal, here.  Not only does he preserve our sweet & sour mix, but he's also used in industrial cleaning, photography, the pulp and paper industry and agrochemicals.  Thanks Cal, for taking time out of your busy schedule to join our little party.
  • Yellow 5--I have nothing to say.
  • Yellow 6--What color would this stuff be without Thing 1 and Thing 2, I wonder?

Gee, thanks, Mr. and Mrs. T.  I have no words to express my gratitude to you for making this fine, fine product.  I am welling up.

Let's cut to the chase, shall we.  Let's just admit that this stuff is horrible, and let's just make our own.  Here's how I make mine:

All Natural, Made With Real Citrus Sweet & Sour Mix

  • 4 oz. lemon juice
  • 12 oz. lime juice
  • 10.5 oz. sugar
  • 10.5 oz. water

Note the ratio of sugar to water-->  1:1.  Simple syrup!  So, here's what you do.  Either start with 21 oz. simple syrup, or make your own.  Cool (if you had to make some), and whisk in citrus juices.  The End.

Other Things You Can Do:

  1. Use a different proportion of lemon to lime juice.  Try 8 oz. of each.
  2. Replace some with an equal amount of orange juice.
  3. Experiment with whisking some powdered egg white into the simple syrup.  I've never done this, so I can't speak to amounts, but start with a tablespoon or so and see what happens.

What To Do With Your Sour Mix:

  1. Make a margarita
  2. Make a whiskey sour
  3. Make an amaretto sour
  4. Use the egg test and make some sorbet
  5. Use the egg test and make it into granita
  6. Add sparkling water to make homemade lemon-lime soda (you might need more simple syrup)

So, there you have it.  Shame on you, Mr. & Mrs. T.  I need a drink...


  1. says

    My sister’s favorite drink is the amaretto sour, so perhaps I’ll treat her next time she buys alcohol for me. I mean for her 21-year-old self.

    Also, I really love how the FDA’s regulations stipulate that anything labeled “natural” only has to have 51% natural ingredients. I guess majority rules in all aspects of society?

  2. says

    Oh my goodness, I can’t keep up with you. You’ve had so many great posts this week, I’m wondering what I can make next. I just had more dental work done (only one more appointment after this!) and instead of chicken soup, I think I’ll make myself a Tom Collins with your sour mix recipe tonight. I’m headed to the Asian store for cheap citrus at lunch!

  3. says

    Wonderful! I already saved the simple syrup technique – both will go to Mr. Noodle who has swore off the industrial bottled mixes a while ago but hasn’t quite found the right blend.

  4. Iain says

    I think the bit of egg white has something to do with Boston style, or something like that. I wouldn’t even bother making sour mix. Just make the syrup and add mix the fresh juice(s) directly into the drink as appropriate. For example, I don’t think you really want lime juice in a whiskey sour.

  5. Kristina says

    Thanks for all of this info. How long would you say this would keep in the fridge? Or should I make and consume right away?

    • says

      I would only make enough to use over a week, tops. Even with all the acid and sugar, I wouldn’t put it past itself to get funky after awhile. Fortunately, it’s easily scalable and not hard to make. 🙂

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