Sour mix is a common ingredient used in cocktails and mixed drinks. It provides a tart, citrusy flavor to balance out spirits and other ingredients. For those avoiding gluten, an important question arises: is sour mix gluten-free? The short answer is yes, traditional sour mix does not contain gluten. However, there are a few caveats to consider.
What is Sour Mix?
Sour mix is comprised of:
- Freshly squeezed lemon and/or lime juice
- Simple syrup (sugar and water)
- Occasionally, pasteurized egg whites
The core ingredients – citrus juice, sugar, and water – are naturally gluten-free. Some bartenders may also add grenadine for color and flavor. Grenadine is made from pomegranate juice, which does not contain gluten.
Watch Out for Flavored Sour Mixes
While traditional sour mix is gluten-free, some premade or commercial sour mixes may contain other ingredients that are not gluten-free. Some added ingredients to watch out for include:
- Artificial flavors
- Stabilizers like maltodextrin
- Dextrin or other gluten-containing thickeners
- Wheat-based alcohols
Always check the label on premade sour mixes, as the formulations can vary by brand. When in doubt, classic homemade sour mix with lemon/lime juice and simple syrup is the safest option.
Best Practices for Gluten-Free Sour Mix
When preparing your own gluten-free sour mix:
- Squeeze fresh citrus juice rather than using bottled – this avoids preservatives
- Use plain granulated cane sugar rather than flavored simple syrups
- Omit liqueurs, schnapps, or flavored spirits that may contain gluten
- Use 100% agave tequila rather than mixtos (some mixtos contain glutenous grains)
- Shake with potato vodka rather than wheat vodka
- Garnish cocktails with fresh fruit rather than syrupy glazes
Sample Gluten-Free Sour Mix Recipe
Here is a simple recipe for gluten-free sour mix you can make at home:
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Combine lemon juice, lime juice, water, and sugar in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker.
- Stir vigorously until sugar fully dissolves.
- Store refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Use a 1:1 ratio to add this gluten-free sour mix to your favorite spirits or cocktails! Enjoy the tangy flavor knowing it is free of gluten.
Traditional homemade or from-scratch sour mix that contains only lemon/lime juice, simple syrup, and optionally egg whites, is inherently gluten-free. When using premade mixes, check the labels carefully and avoid flavored varieties that may contain undisclosed thickeners or emulsifiers. Opting for fresh ingredients gives you full control over the contents of your sour mix for gluten-free cocktails.