New York Sour

Here’s how to make the New York Sour: one of the best cocktails out there! Make a classic whiskey sour and float a layer of red wine on top.

New York Sour

May we introduce you to one of the most stunning and complex cocktails out there: the New York Sour! Now, this Classic Whiskey Sour stands out as a fan favorite (and personal one) in our long list of cocktail recipes. So when we tried this New York Sour: well, it blew us away! First you have the whiskey sour layer: sweet tart and perfectly balanced, sweetened with maple for some nuance. Then float a layer of red wine over the top and it adds intrigue, complexity and a fruity acidity. Not to mention it looks simply stunning with the bright two-toned layer. Even better: it’s easy to make! Here’s how it’s done.

What’s in a New York Sour?

The New York Sour is a well-known variation on the whiskey sour that floats a layer of red wine on top. It’s thought to have been invented by a bartender in the 1880’s in Chicago, then picked up and made popular in New York City (hence the name). The whiskey sour is a actually classic cocktail that’s on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. This means it has an official definition. Add a layer of wine and you’ve got this classic red wine cocktail:

  • Bourbon whiskey: as high quality as possible (you can use any whiskey, but we prefer the flavor of bourbon)
  • Lemon juice
  • Simple syrup (we use maple syrup; more below)
  • Red wine
New York Sour

How to make a New York Sour (and make a perfect layer)

Though it looks showy, the New York Sour is actually very easy to make! You just need to know a little trick about making that beautiful red wine layer.

  • Shake: Combine the bourbon, lemon juice and syrup in a cocktail shaker and shake until cold Strain it into a glass.
  • Make the red wine layer: Here’s the fun part! Hold the back of a spoon right above the top of the glass. Then gently pour the red wine on top of the spoon into the glass. Because it hits the spoon first, it will settle into a layer on top.
New York Sour

Maple syrup vs simple syrup

The sweetener for a whiskey sour is traditionally simple syrup. But you can also use maple syrup in this New York Sour! Alex and I have switched to using maple syrup for many of our cocktail recipes. Here’s why:

  • Maple syrup gives a nuanced sweetness. Simple syrup gives a drink a straightforward, piercing sweetness. In contrast, the sweetness with maple is more nuanced and adds complexity to the drink. Most importantly: it doesn’t taste like maple at all! (Really.)
  • It’s a natural sweetener (not refined sugar). Maple syrup still contains sugar, of course! But if you like to use natural sweeteners, this is the way to go.

The whiskey: rye vs bourbon

You can make a New York Sour with either rye or bourbon whiskey! But Alex and I generally prefer the sweeter flavor of bourbon to the spicy flavor of rye. In our classic Whiskey Sour, we always use bourbon when we serve it (you can also call it a bourbon sour). Of course, feel free to use whatever suits your fancy! If you have local options, this is a great way to give them a go!

In general, we prefer the taste of bourbon whiskey to rye in cocktails. We use bourbon in our Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Boulevardier cocktails! We’d highly recommend them if you love bourbon drinks.

Whiskey

More whiskey sour variations: Boston Sour & Gold Rush

Another variation on the classic whiskey sour is this Boston Sour! It has an egg white foam topping, which is often an addition to sour cocktails. It makes it feel like a true 1920’s style drink! If you’ve never tried an egg white foam, we’ve cracked the code to making that perfect, frothy foam.

Or, try the Gold Rush cocktail! It’s like a whiskey sour but uses honey syrup instead of simple syrup as the sweetener.

More classic sour cocktails!

Here are a few more of our classic cocktails to add to your repertoire that are all part of the family of sour cocktails! Sour cocktails are all mixed drinks that have liquor, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener.

New York Sour

When to serve a New York Sour

The New York Sour is a red wine cocktail that’s tasty as it is versatile. It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Summer patio drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
Print
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New York Sour

BEST New York Sour


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (38 votes, average: 4.16 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make the New York Sour: one of the best cocktails out there! Make a classic whiskey sour and float a layer of red wine on top.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) bourbon whiskey
  • 1 ounce ( 2 tablespoons) lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) maple syrup or simple syrup
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) dry red wine
  • Optional garnish: lemon twist

Instructions

  1. Add the bourbon, lemon juice, and syrup to a cocktail shaker and fill it with a handful of ice. Shake until very cold.
  2. Strain the drink into an ice-filled lowball or Old Fashioned glass.
  3. Carefully pour the red wine over the back of a spoon just above the surface of the drink, creating a layer on top. Serve with a lemon twist if desired.

  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: New York Sour, New York Sour Recipe, Red Wine Cocktail

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Luke
    June 10, 2020 at 2:55 am

    Do you have a suggestion for what red wine to use?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      June 10, 2020 at 9:00 am

      Any dry red you enjoy would be fine, but I wouldn’t go to heavy. Something like a rioja or malbec would be great.

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