Recipes

New York Sour

Whisky meets wine in one of the most under-rated cocktails of all time.

The New York Sour is a cocktail that is simple to make, complex to taste and looks extraordinary. It’s a showstopper of a drink, but without needing all the usual efforts that go into making something difficult.

It’s a variant on the classic mid-19th century Whiskey Sour and while this may be a bold claim given just how beloved the Whiskey Sour is, we put it to you that the New York Sour is a better drink.

The wine’s aromatic quality integrates beautifully with the whisky in the cocktail. It also lends its deep red colour and when floated on top in the right glassware, brings with it a sense of visual drama.

1 serving
  • 60 ml Whisky
  • 30 ml Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 15 ml Sugar Syrup
  • 1 Dash Angostura Bitters
  • 15 ml Red Wine
  1. Add the whisky, lemon juice, sugar syrup and angostura into a shaker filled with ice and shake away.
  2. Fine strain into a rocks glass filled with cubed ice. Once done, gently layer the red wine on top.
New York Sour Cocktail
New York Sour Cocktail

Top Tips

It’s literally a Whiskey Sour recipe with a float of dry red wine. This means drinkers who love the original still get their fix, while those less convinced get a fruity wine hit to make it more accessible. The size of the float makes a big difference. If you like the original Whiskey Sour, keep the float tiny. If you are the opposite, layer that vino on thick. 

As with all Sour recipes (the cocktail type, not the flavour profile), adding in egg white before you shake is optional. If you like it with a frothy head, go for, if not just ignore - the red wine will float just as well either way.

Typically, a Sour calls for Rye Whiskey or Bourbon as the base. Rye brings more prominent spice notes than Bourbon, but both are tasty. Meanwhile, make sure you pick a fruity wine like a Shiraz, Merlot or Grenache.

We take our choice of spirit much further and enjoy playing with the full repertoire that New World Whisky has to offer. Try using red wine cask matured Whisky from trailblazing distilleries like Starward or Cotswolds. The type of barrels they use (and their former occupants) not only makes great whisky but allows you to bridge the flavour gap between the float and the underlying drink.

An Abridged, Inebriated History:

The New York Sour is a variant of the Sour – a type of cocktail with a long history. The British Navy is credited for popularising the sour, if not actually inventing the drink in the first place. It began as a way to combat scurvy and malnutrition, and with sailors mixing their Rum rations with lime juice (thus the nickname limeys) to make grogs. Sailors then brought Punches and Grogs ashore, with Punch Houses becoming established in London as early as the 1600s. The Sour evolved from this style of drink with very similar ingredients (and in many ways, remains just a mini punch recipe). 

The New York Sour is not as old as these originals and was thought to have been first made in the 1880s by a bartender in Chicago, before being later popularised in New York. The origins of the name is equally as vague. There were recipes for a very similar cocktail doing the rounds which were originally named the Continental Sour, the Southern Whiskey Sour, the Brunswick Sour and the Claret Snap. They all seem to be the same drink, meaning that it’s likely that it simply became “best” known as the New York Sour over the years, then only known as that.

The New York Sour is a variant of the Sour – a type of cocktail with a long history. The British Navy is credited for popularising the sour, if not actually inventing the drink in the first place. It began as a way to combat scurvy and malnutrition, and with sailors mixing their Rum rations with lime juice (thus the nickname limeys) to make grogs. Sailors then brought Punches and Grogs ashore, with Punch Houses becoming established in London as early as the 1600s. The Sour evolved from this style of drink with very similar ingredients (and in many ways, remains just a mini punch recipe). 

The New York Sour is not as old as these originals and was thought to have been first made in the 1880s by a bartender in Chicago, before being later popularised in New York. The origins of the name is equally as vague. There were recipes for a very similar cocktail doing the rounds which were originally named the Continental Sour, the Southern Whiskey Sour, the Brunswick Sour and the Claret Snap. They all seem to be the same drink, meaning that it’s likely that it simply became “best” known as the New York Sour over the years, then only known as that.

Spirits Kiosk
Woodford Reserve Bourbon
Woodford Reserve Bourbon
70cl43.2%US
£33.95
Bulleit Rye
Bulleit Rye
70cl45%US
£33.45
Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky
Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky
70cl46%GB
£39.45