If high travel costs keep you home over spring break, be transported to your dream vacay another way: with a sour cocktail.
A crucial category of classic cocktailing, sours’ ingredients are simple: spirit, sugar and, importantly, citrus. (Add a liqueur and you have what’s called a daisy.) Yet the results of these combinations can be evocatively complex, thanks to the zing of acidic fruit. Daiquiris, gimlets, whiskey sours all follow the same formula.
“Citrus tastes like sunshine,” says Marco Zappia, who heads the bar program at Minneapolis restaurants Martina and Colita. “Drinking a sour cocktail moves you to patios, warmth and exotica. Relaxation. Momentary reprieve from the world.”
Sours also have a practical application. They make drinkers salivate, “which is really good for opening the appetite,” says Jeff Rogers, co-bar director for Jester Concepts, which oversees the lounge at P.S. Steak in Minneapolis. “Lemon juice works like salt. It makes other foods taste like better versions of themselves.”
Sours originated in the early days of distillation, when acid — fruit or even vinegar — and sugar were employed to mask poorly made spirits. “That’s the nature of cocktails,” says Keith Mrotek, beverage director at Norseman Distillery in northeast Minneapolis. “You take this thing no one can drink straight — spirit — and then make it into something else to taste accessible.”
Norseman’s cocktail menu skews tart, incorporating ingredients like grapefruit vinegar to add pucker. “Refreshing is the word,” Mrotek says.
Here are three to try:
The Naked Dani
This margarita-like cocktail contains a three-tequila blend, clarified lime cordial, hibiscus, and housemade orange liqueur and kombucha. The house fermentations add layers of sour beyond a squeeze of a run-of-the-mill lime. Instead of a traditional salt rim, it’s topped with a fluff of salt bubbles that make a seat for a tiny rubber duckie.
“Aren’t you a little young for full contact?”
P.S. Steak lounge, psmpls.com
Fluffy, foamy egg white tops this cocktail, named for a line in the 1988 movie “Bloodsport.” It’s a tasty mix of lemon and yuzu with green tea shochu and matcha. The drink’s tartness is a penetrating match for the lounge’s rich lamb burgers.
Norseman Distillery, norsemandistillery.com
This spin on the popular grapefruit-flavored sparkling water packs a bigger punch. Grapefruit vinegar, grapefruit-infused salt and Minnesota-made Pink Robot kombucha lend a puckery funkiness to the distillery’s own tequila.