New York Sour Recipe

A New York Sour cocktail adds a playful twist to the classic Whiskey Sour by floating a fruity red wine over the top.[i] This pre-prohibition cocktail, dating back to the 1880s, is thought to have first been created by a bartender in the Second City (Chicago), but then popularized in Manhattan, thus the name. Before it was popularized as the New York Sour, it had two other aliases: Continental Sour and Southern Whiskey Sour.

So, you’ve got this perfectly delicious Whiskey Sour, why mess with it? First, it looks nice, not that you should make a drink for appearance alone, but it is a nice looking drink and people appreciate that. More importantly, the sweetness of the red wine will counter the tartness of the sour (often if someone finds a Whiskey Sour too tart for their taste, we will turn it into a New York Sour to see if that is a better match). In return, the tartness from the lemon juice will draw out the fruity notes in the wine. We aren’t going to get into wine selection here, but if there are certain flavors you like in red wine test them out with this drink.

New York Sour Recipe

  • 2 oz. Bonded Bourbon or New York Sour Recipe - CocktailsRye Whiskey
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. simple syrup (1:1)[ii]
  • 2 dashes Angustora Bitters
  • ½-1 egg white
  • ½ oz. fruity red wine (e.g. Malbec, Shiraz)


Combine whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters, and egg white in a shaker, shake vigorously. Add ice to shaker, and shake well, again. Stain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Close to the surface of the drink, slowly pour the red wine over the back a bar spoon to disperse the wine over the top of the sour (keeping it from blending with the rest of the drink). Garnish with a lemon peel.


[i] Back in the 1870s and 1880s when floating wine over a drink was trending, this technique was referred to as a “claret snap.” Claret now refers to red wines of the Bordeaux region of France, but at the time meant any red wine. We haven’t got a clue why floating wine over a cocktail was referred to as a “snap”? If you do, please let us know.

[ii] Lots of “recipes” for simple syrup suggest that you have to heat your water. You can, and it certainly speeds up the process of dissolving the sugar, but don’t let the water boil. And you should let it cool before using, which negates the time you saved. If you only need a little simple syrup, equal parts sugar and water in a tightly sealed jar and a long vigorous shake will do the trick… and you need practice shaking your drinks anyway.