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New York Sour

The New York Sour takes the classic Whiskey Sour to a new level by adding a red wine float. This ruby layer provides a fruity zing plus a stripe of elegance.

New York Sour Cocktail with Black Background Centered

We did a double take when we first encountered a New York Sour cocktail.

Our first thought was “This cocktail looks really cool!” after looking at the red layer which lines the top of the drink. That top layer consists of wine. Wine? Yes, wine.

Discover more colorful cocktails.

New York Sour Cocktail with Black Background
The top red layer makes the New York Sour cocktail unique. It also adds a zing of flavor.

Once we recognized the drink’s oenological layer, our next thought was that this sour cocktail, which combines red wine and whiskey, surely couldn’t taste good. Then we tasted it and found that we liked it.

Finally, we suspected that this layered bourbon whiskey cocktail must be difficult to craft. We were wrong about that too.

Discover more sour cocktails to craft at home.

What Is A New York Sour?

Crafted New York Sour Cocktail
The New York Sour cocktail, up close.

The New York Sour is basically a Whiskey Sour with red wine floated on top. Some people (like us) add an egg white layer but that white layer is entirely optional.

It’s an odd drink that sounds super trendy. However, this pre-prohibition cocktail actually dates back to the 19th century. And, in a twist that’s as odd as the drink’s red wine layer, its roots aren’t in New York City.

Discover more of our favorite Pre-Prohibition cocktails.

History Of The New York Sour Cocktail

New York Sour with White Background
The New York Sour is yet another cocktail whose history is a mystery.

As is the case with many classic cocktails, nobody knows for sure who invented the New York Sour. But we do know that Jerry Thomas included the recipe in his 1862 book How to Mix Drinks along with the more popular Whiskey Sour. So it’s at least that old and probably older.

We also know that the New York Sour made an appearance in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire in 2013 but that’s about it. Sometimes a little mystery is a good thing. The same goes for a little bit of red wine.

Ingredients

New York Sour Cocktail Ingredients In
The New York Sour drink recipe has a short ingredient list that includes whiskey, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white (optional), red wine and ice cubes (not pictured).

If you have the ingredients for crafting a Whiskey Sour and a bottle of red wine, then you have everything you need to craft a New York Sour. These are all of the necessary ingredients:

  • Bourbon or Rye
  • Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Simple Syrup
  • Egg White (optional)
  • Red Wine
  • Ice Cubes

While you can use either bourbon or rye to craft a NY Sour, we chose bourbon for our recipe. In our home, we often use Four Roses bourbon to craft cocktails.

Partially Full Four Roses Bottle
Four Roses bourbon is our go-to bourbon for crafting cocktails.

Four Roses is a great cocktail bourbon since its flavors are relatively mild with hints of both vanilla and caramel. It’s also one of the more affordable bourbons produced in Kentucky and has a 40% ABV, the lowest possible ABV for Kentucky bourbon.

Discover our favorite bourbon cocktails.

Feel free to use whatever bourbon or rye is your favorite and open a drinkable bottle of red from your wine cellar or pantry. Not only is this approach both easy and cost effective, but it’s also a recipe for success.

While many recipes call for varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Côtes du Rhône, Malbec or Shiraz. However, almost any red wine will work in this recipe.

How To Craft A New York Sour Cocktail

New York Sour Cocktail Mise en Place
Organizing the ingredients and bar tools is the first step in any cocktail recipe.

The first step in this recipe is to gather and measure the bourbon, freshly squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup. We use a Japanese jigger to get accurate measurements and easy pours for all three of these liquids.

Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you need a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.

Measuring Bourbon for a New York Sour
We use a Japanese jigger to measure the bourbon as well as the simple syrup, lemon juice and wine.

We typically prepare simple syrup in advance so that it has time to cool. However, we squeeze the lemon juice on the spot for maximum freshness.

Pro Tip
Save money by making simple syrup from scratch. It’s as easy as boiling water and sugar in a 1:1 ratio until the sugar dissolves. Make sure you stir frequently so that the sugar doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Let the syrup cool before covering and storing in an airtight container.

Pour the bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup directly into a shaker as you measure each. Next, pour an egg white into the shaker.

Pouring Lemon Juice into a New York Sour
Using a Japanese jigger ensures accurate measurements and minimizes spillage.

Adding raw egg whites is an optional step that creates a frothy finish not to mention a bit of protein.

Pro Tip
Feel free to omit the egg white if you follow a vegan diet or are concerned about salmonella. Another option is to use a pasteurized egg white product.

The next step is to shake the cocktail. However, if you’re including the egg white, this is a two-part step.

First, do a dry shake without ice for 10 to 20 seconds. Dry shaking allows the egg white to emulsify and transform to egg white foam. Next, add ice and shake for another 20 to 30 seconds until the drink is fully chilled and blended.

Adding Ice to a New York Sour
Since we add egg white to our New York Sour recipe, shaking it is a two-step process.

We use a Boston Shaker to craft this and other cocktails and we love it. It’s so easy to use and doesn’t make a mess. Our previous shakers often leaked and the lid would stick to the base between uses.

You’ll want to add ice to a lowball or rocks glass before you strain the drink. We like to use jumbo ice cubes in this and other cocktails. Not only do jumbo ice cubes look cool, but they also displace more liquid, keeping our drinks colder for a longer period of time. A large cube also melts more slowly which prevents our cocktails from getting watery.

Large Ice Cube for a New York Sour
Adding a jumbo ice cube make this great cocktail even greater.

Now it’s time to strain the bourbon cocktail into the glass. You’ll want to use a cocktail strainer for this step.

If you chose to add an egg white, a white layer will naturally from at the top of the cocktail.

Straining a New York Sour
Straining is not the final step in this cocktail recipe.

The final step is to add dry red wine. This step seems like it might be complicated but it’s not.

Simply place a bar spoon above the glass and slowly pour the red wine over the back of the spoon. The spoon will act as a buffer, allowing the wine to disperse and form a layer.

Pouring Red Wine into New York Sour
Creating the red wine float is easier than it looks.

There’s no question that the wine layer is a cool effect. Whether you like the taste or not is a different matter. As always, there’s only one way to answer this particular question.

Variations

Crafted New York Sour Cocktail with Ingredients
Will you love the New York Sour cocktail? There’s only one way to found out this answer.

We recommend that you follow our recipe the first time to see how you like the drink’s flavor. You may find it sweet, too tart or just right.

Here are some ideas if you want to experiment without going too crazy:

  • Omit the wine to craft a Whiskey Sour cocktail.
  • Reduce the lemon juice to craft a sweeter New York Sour cocktail.
  • Reduce the simple syrup to craft a tarter New York Sour cocktail.
  • Replace the bourbon with rye to craft a spicier New York Sour cocktail.
  • Replace the simple syrup with maple syrup to craft a Canadian riff on the New York Sour cocktail.
  • Replace the wine with port to craft a Portuguese riff on the New York Sour cocktail.

Discover 10 essential bar tools for the home mixologist.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a New York Sour?

The New York Sour is a Whiskey Sour with red wine floated on top.

Where was the New York Sour invented?

Despite its geographic name, the New York Sour’s exact history is a mystery.

What does a New York Sour taste like?

A New York Sour has a unique flavor that’s simultaneously tart and fruity.

What are the ingredients in a New York Sour?

Bourbon or Rye, Fresh Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Egg White (optional), Red Wine and Ice Cubes

What’s the best whiskey to use in a New York Sour?

You should use your favorite bourbon in this cocktail recipe. We typically use Four Roses but any bourbon will work just fine.

Is the New York Sour shaken or stirred?

The New York Sour is shaken, not stirred.

What type of glass is best for the New York Sour?

We like to serve this cocktail in a lowball glass and you should do the same.

Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.

New York Sour with White Background
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4.50 from 6 votes

New York Sour Recipe

Learn how to craft this Whiskey Sour variation with red wine in just five minutes. Yes, red wine.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Drink
Cuisine: Cocktail
Servings: 1
Calories: 247kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 egg white (optional)
  • ¾ ounce red wine
  • 1 jumbo ice cube
  • additional ice cubes (for shaking)

Instructions

  • Combine bourbon, lemon juice,, simple syrup and egg white in a shaker.
  • Shake vigorously for 20 seconds without ice so that the egg white emulsifies. (Skip this step if you omit the egg white.)
  • Add ice and shake vigorously for an additional 20 seconds or until the drink is properly chilled and blended.
  • Place a large ice cube into a lowball or rocks glass and strain the drink into the glass
  • Pour red wine into the glass. Use the back side of a cocktail spoon as a buffer so that the red wine can gently form a layer.

Notes

  • The egg white can be omitted if you're a vegan or if you're uncomfortable with ingesting raw eggs.
  • Recommended wine varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Shiraz and Zinfandel. However, almost any red wine will work in this recipe.

Estimated Nutrition

Calories: 247kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 69mg | Potassium: 124mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg
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About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.

Disclosures

Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Funding
We purchased the ingredients and tools used to craft this cocktail.

Original Publication Date: May 7, 2022

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