New York Sour Cocktail - A picture-perfect cocktail that tastes good too

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New York Sour Cocktail - A picture-perfect cocktail that tastes good too

With its striking two-tone look, the New York sour cocktail looks made for the social media age.

It actually dates back to the 1880s. A boozy, Bordeaux version of a whiskey sour, this cocktail is ready for fall with a floating Malbec.

Like many strangely named cocktails, the New York sour is a misnomer.

The drink originated nearly 800 miles away in Chicago. So how did you get that mismatched name?

The cocktail is rumored to have become popular in New York bars and they chose the name after going through titles like "continental sour" and "claret snap".

But those stories have not been confirmed, so let's file the story of the origin of the name of this cocktail in the unknown folder.

What makes you special? Red wine

The taste of a New York sour is no different than a standard whiskey sour, with a sweet lime scotch base, with one big exception: the addition of wine gives the drink an unexpected hint of berry flavor.

Since the cocktail base is already sweet with the addition of simple syrup, I would go with a dry red wine.

I use a Malbec, although a claret, a British term for Bordeaux red wines, is traditional.

Other options include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The best kind of whiskey

While a whiskey sour can be made with any type of whiskey, go for rye here. The spicy nature complements the rich wine.

It also doesn't get lost among the other ingredients like some smoother whiskeys would.

Old Overholt is my favorite for mixing cocktails, but if that's not available to you, try Redemption Rye or Whistle Pig.

Add an egg white (and alternatives)

If you're familiar with a whiskey sour, including an egg white is also an option here.

The addition of an egg white is not true to the original recipe, but it is an ingredient that has been around for a long time.

The argument for adding egg white to a drink like this is twofold: it creates a pleasant mouthfeel and helps blend the ingredients while toning down any sharpness from the harsh whiskey and sour lemon.

If you're vegan or just don't want egg whites in your drink, you can substitute aquafaba for the egg whites (use an ounce instead of egg whites). You can also forego this entirely.

How to Create Beautiful Layers

If creating the beautiful layers of this drink makes you nervous, fear not. Even if your float wobbles a bit, it won't change the taste of the drink.

A word of advice: The easiest way to make the wine float on top of your drink is to slowly pour it over the back of a spoon that just barely touches the top of the drink.

You can even move the spoon around a bit as you pour to make sure the wine is evenly distributed.


  • 2 ounces of rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 egg white, optional
  • 3/4 ounce red wine, such as Malbec, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon


Gather the ingredients:

In a cocktail shaker 2/3 filled with ice, pour the rye whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg whites, if using.

Shake off:

Shake vigorously for 20 seconds, then strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.

Add wine:

Place a spoon over the drink as close to the top as possible without touching the liquid.

Slowly pour the red wine over the back of the spoon to create a layer on top. To serve.

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