At the start of this week I adamantly stated that sour mix is terrible. But, I have to tell you I hadn’t ever really tasted that much sour mix. So, for the greater good, I picked up a bottle of Freshies Sour Mix, invited some friends over and put it to the test. We started with a quick amaretto tasting.
Romeo – 28% ABV – This was definitely our bottom shelf amaretto for the evening and it was apparent from the first sniff. There was a disturbing sharpie (as in the marker) note to the aroma and the almond smells you’d expect were very light. The flavor was quite sharp and for only being 56 proof the spirit burned more than I’d expect. There was little to no almond flavor which truly echoed what we experienced in the aroma. This exchange summed it up. “Reese – ‘It doesn’t taste almondy at all’ Sean – ‘Oh, but it does. . . In the Matrix!'”
Disaronno – 28% ABV – Disaronno is the liqueur most people think of when they hear amaretto. But there’s an interesting twist. It seems Disaronno is trying to make themselves into something other than an amaretto. To that end you won’t find the word amaretto anywhere on the front of a bottle of Disaronno anymore. In fact, the only place I found mention of it was on the back in rather small type. Pouring yourself a bit you’ll note the aroma is fairly non-descript although very pleasant with a very light hint of almond. The almond flavor too is lighter than I expected. Thankfully there was none of the burn we found in the Romeo. Overall a good liqueur but not as complex as I’d like.
Luxardo – 28% ABV – At Tales I had the opportunity to meet and share a drink with Matteo Luxardo. He introduced me to Luxardo Amaretto explaining the use of apricot kernels in the mix. The aroma is more fruity and has very pleasant subtle almond notes. I think the flavor could best be described as buttery. The fruity flavors and almond come through wonderfully as well. I like the additional complexity of this liqueur. For me this is definitely my amaretto of choice. That said, in this application both the Luxardo and the Disaronno are excellent choices.
Now on to some cocktails. We first sampled the drink using lemon juice (2 oz amaretto : 1 oz lemon juice). The sourness of the lemon juice cuts the sweetness of the liqueur perfectly. The resulting drink is very flavorful and refreshing, although a bit sweet for my taste. Next came the sour mix varieties. First one made with the same ratio (2 oz amaretto : 1 oz sour mix). Good lord is this sweet. The sour mix increases the sweetness of the drink and doesn’t have enough sourness to stand up. Finally, I looked up a recipe online (specifically the one from the American Bartending School) and we mixed that up (1 oz amaretto : 2 oz sour mix). Oh, good god. Really, seriously nasty. The sweetness is even more pumped up and the amaretto gets lost completely.
So, the final result of all this? Freshies Sour Mix is actually not bad, as sour mixes go. It has 20% real fruit juice and actually requires refrigeration. Will I be buying more? Not likely. The resulting cocktail simply wasn’t good no matter how I mixed it. I did learn some other useful information along the way, though. First, I like my amaretto sour with a touch more lemon juice 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 oz. Second, stirring an Amaretto Sour doesn’t work. It doesn’t dissolve enough water and it doesn’t chill enough. Shake please. Finally, I like the Amaretto Sour but I can’t see myself drinking a lot of them. Still too sweet. But one every now and then. Now you’re talking.
Amaretto Sour (Cocktail Hacker)
2 oz Amaretto (Luxardo) 1 1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1) Shake with ice 2) Strain into a chilled glass