Liquor Laboratory

Amaretto Sour vs Whiskey Sour: What’s the Difference? (2024)

Amaretto Sour Vs Whiskey Sour 

I recall my early days as a budding mixologist, often needing to inquire about customers’ preferred ingredients to avoid any mix-ups.

However, as I’ve become an expert in the field, I can confidently distinguish various ingredients.

Today, we’ll look into the clash of two favorites: the iconic Amaretto sour vs the timeless whiskey sour, unraveling their distinct flavors and helping you make an informed choice.

Amaretto Sour vs Whiskey Sour In-Depth Comparison

2 Glasses of Amaretto Sour

Whiskey sour creates equilibrium between whiskey’s boldness and lemon’s tartness, while Amaretto sour introduces a sweet contrast.

“The standard sour template consists of a spirit, a sweetener, and a citrus juice, which contributes the “sour” element.” – Tyler Zielinski, Writer and Bartender

The only difference between the two cocktails is their base technique, but they all include a sour element (most commonly, lemon juice), a simple syrup, and an egg white.

Amaretto Sour vs Whiskey Sour Cheat Sheet


Amaretto SourWhiskey Sour

Maraschino cherry

Maraschino cherry or orange slice


Reverse/Dry shake (cocktail shaker/immersion blender)

Shake (cocktail shaker)


Rock glass

Old-fashioned glass


Amaretto Stone Sour (commercial sour mix and orange juice), Perfect Amaretto Sour (dry shake with bourbon) 

Boston Sour (egg white), New York Sour (red wine)

Notable Ingredients

Amaretto Liqueur, fresh lemon juice, egg white, simple syrup

Whiskey, fresh lemon juice, egg white, simple syrup

Cocktail Pairing

Dessert courses, Italian cuisine

Hearty meals, Classic American Fare

Alcohol Content


Slightly high



Classic drink

Head-To-Head Battle

Glass of Amaretto Sour

Base Spirit

Our team has agreed that whiskey sour will take on the crown for this category. Like old-fashioned, you can use different whiskey types for its recipe, like rye, Scotch, bourbon, or Irish whiskey [1].

Each spirit reacts differently with the lemon juice.

On the other hand, the classic Amaretto sour leans heavily on Amaretto liqueur’s nutty flavor derived from almonds. Without additional ingredients, this Italian liqueur has a thick consistency and overly sweet taste resembling cough syrup.


Both cocktails have lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white (can be optional). They can also have brandied cherry or orange slices for garnish.

However, variations of these two cocktails exist where an overproof bourbon can be added to Amaretto sours, and Angostura bitters can be included in whiskey sours.

These ingredients change the flavor profile of the two classic drinks, leading our team to give points to both of them.



The sweetness of Amaretto sour excels more than other sours. The cocktail’s base, Amaretto liqueur, has a sweet, nutty flavor primarily originating from bitter almonds, apricot kernels/apricot pits, or sweet almonds.

It allows individuals with nut allergies to safely enjoy the liqueur, following the American Association of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology guidelines.

Disaronno, perhaps your most familiar brand of Amaretto, is one of our top choices when making this drink. It’s the primary source of sweetness for Amaretto sour, while whiskey sour only relies on simple syrup.


Both cocktails embrace sourness, with lemon juice as the common denominator. If you want to balance the flavors of these cocktails, you can do it our way.

For whiskey sour, you can choose bourbon instead of rye (if you’re not a big fan of rye). The smoother profile and caramelized flavor of bourbon offer a sweet contrast to the lemon juice.

And for the Amaretto sour, adding an over-proof or cask-strength bourbon would help enhance the cocktail’s other ingredients, especially the sour flavor.

Egg whites can also tone down the acidity of both cocktails.

Flavor Profile Glass of Whiskey Sour

Each cocktail offers a spectrum of flavors depending on the recipe used. Whiskey sours have boldness from their strong liquor, a citrus vibrancy from lemon juice, and sweetness from simple syrup.

In comparison, Amaretto crafts a velvety profile centered around the Amaretto liqueur (usually made of almonds) and the lemon’s tanginess.

Since our team is more inclined toward how other ingredients are balanced against the strong flavors of the alcoholic drink, we chose whiskey sour for this category.

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Balance & Sweetness Level

This time, our team has varying opinions on the more balanced cocktail. It comes down to the whiskey or Amaretto sour recipe you will use.

The balance of freshly squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup is essential for both cocktails. Besides, alcoholic beverages also play a role in balancing the flavors of the ingredients.

Furthermore, the egg whites, although optional, can affect the acidity and texture of both drinks. So, we’re giving this category to both cocktails because of their versatility.

Alcohol Content

Whiskey sours have a higher ABV between the two whenever we use Scotch or bourbon with more than 40% ABV.

For context, a whiskey sour usually includes 1.5 to 2 ounces of whiskey, the standard drink for a 40% ABV liquor. Just three to four shots of this spirit can already make you drunk.

“Amaretto Sour and Whiskey Sour: Two soulful sips, intertwined in flavor, divergent only in their spirited essence.” – Liquor Laboratory

Meanwhile, Amaretto usually contains 21 to 28% ABV [2]. But an Amaretto sour can have more alcohol content if you add an overproof bourbon.


What is similar to an Amaretto sour?

Pisco Sour is similar to Amaretto Sour. Both are types of sours and use almost the same recipe with ingredients such as citrus, sweets, and egg white (optional). You can also garnish it with an orange or lemon slice.

Why is it called Amaretto Sour?

It is called Amaretto Sour because the cocktail was introduced with a simple recipe of mixing Amaretto Disaronno and lemon juice.

What is a good substitute for sours?

If you want more cocktail options besides these sours, you can make an old-fashioned cocktail, as it also contains liquor, bitters, and simple syrup.

What’s the best bourbon for Amaretto Sour?

A cask-strength bourbon is the best choice for Amaretto Sour. This Amaretto sour recipe was introduced by Jeffrey Morgenthaler in 2012.
You can choose any bourbon with at least 55% ABV, mix the egg white, simple syrup, liqueur, and lemon juice, then add ice.

Are there differences in taste between an Amaretto Sour and a Whiskey Sour?

Yes, due to the different base spirits, the taste profiles of these cocktails vary significantly. An Amaretto Sour has a sweeter, almond-forward flavor with a hint of citrus from the lemon juice, while a Whiskey Sour is tart and balanced, with the whiskey providing a richer, more pronounced taste.

Can the same ingredients be used to make both an Amaretto Sour and a Whiskey Sour?

While both cocktails typically contain lemon juice and simple syrup, the choice of spirit is crucial. Amaretto liqueur is essential for an Amaretto Sour, while whiskey, either bourbon or rye, is the key ingredient for a Whiskey Sour.

Which cocktail is more popular, the Amaretto Sour or the Whiskey Sour?

The popularity of each cocktail can vary depending on personal preferences and regional trends. However, the Whiskey Sour is generally considered a classic cocktail with a broader appeal, while the Amaretto Sour is favored by those who enjoy sweeter, almond-flavored drinks.

Are there variations or twists on the traditional recipes for Amaretto Sours and Whiskey Sours?

Yes, both cocktails can be customized with different ingredients or modifications. For example, variations of the Amaretto Sour may incorporate additional fruit juices or flavored syrups, while Whiskey Sours can be made with different types of whiskey or infused with herbs and spices for added complexity.

Can Amaretto be substituted for whiskey in a Whiskey Sour or vice versa?

While substitutions are possible, they will significantly alter the taste and character of the cocktail. Using Amaretto instead of whiskey in a Whiskey Sour will result in a sweeter, almond-flavored drink, whereas using whiskey instead of Amaretto in an Amaretto Sour will create a stronger, more robust cocktail.

Which cocktail is typically served in a different type of glass, the Amaretto Sour or the Whiskey Sour?

Both cocktails are traditionally served in rocks glasses or old-fashioned glasses over ice. The choice of glassware is more about presentation and personal preference rather than a defining characteristic of the cocktail.

In Summary

Whiskey and Amaretto Sours come from the same Sours family that uses almost the same ingredients. Both include lemon juice, simple syrup (sugar and water), and egg whites (optional), but with different alcohol bases.

Although both have appealing flavor profiles, we still choose the good old classic—whiskey sour.

Here, we can balance the sour and sweet flavors better than in the Amaretto Sours recipe. With an old-fashioned glass filled with ice, a garnish of orange slice/brandied cherry, and a short prep time, this drink provides a delicious summer refreshment.

But if you prefer the sweeter profile, you can try the delicious, sweet, refreshing Amaretto sour drink.


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