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Impress everyone with this New York Sour recipe! The vibrant classic cocktail floats a ruby-red wine layer atop a classic whiskey sour.

New York Sour
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Here’s one of the most stunning and tasty cocktails out there: the New York Sour! This spin on the whiskey sour takes the classic up a notch. First you have the whiskey sour layer: sweet tart and perfectly balanced. Float a layer of red wine over the top and it adds complexity and a fruity acidity, not to mention a stunning vibrant two-toned layer. As cocktail experts with over 300 cocktail recipes in our library, and this one is near the top of our favorites list.

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, earning the name the Continental Sour. It was later picked up and made popular by a bartender in New York City, hence its modern name. The first print mention of the drink with the name “New Your Sour” was in the 1934 book, Mr. Boston’s Bartender Guide.

The whiskey sour is a classic cocktail that’s on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. Add a layer of wine and you’ve got this classic red wine cocktail! The New York Sour ingredients are:

  • 2 oz bourbon whiskey
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • ¾ to 1 oz simple syrup or maple syrup
  • 1 oz red wine

Use a dry red wine like a Malbec, Pinot Noir, Grenache, or Rioja Tempranillo. The classic whiskey sour is sometimes served with an egg white foam topping. We usually leave it off our New York Sour, but it can add another beautiful layer and creamy body to the drink.

New York Sour

Tips for a perfect New York Sour recipe

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.

  1. Shake: Combine 2 oz bourbon, 1 oz lemon juice and ¾ to 1 oz simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and shake until cold. Strain it into a glass.
  2. Make the red wine layer: 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, the wine settles into a layer on top.

Optional egg white

You can also add a classic egg white foam to the New York Sour. Add bourbon, lemon juice, syrup and egg white to a cocktail shaker and shake without ice for 15 seconds. Then add ice and shake again until very cold. Proceed to Step 2.

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! Here’s why we love the maple variation:

  • 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. It doesn’t taste like maple: it simply adds sweetness.
  • It’s a natural sweetener (no 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! We generally prefer the sweeter flavor of bourbon in cocktails to the spicy flavor of rye. In our classic whiskey sour, we typically use bourbon when we serve it (also called a Boston Sour). You can also make a whiskey sour with Irish whiskey (the Irish Sour) or Scotch (the Buchanan Sour).

We often lean towards bourbon our whiskey cocktails, like the Old Fashioned or Manhattan. Of course, you can use your favorite type of whiskey in this drink: each type gives the drink a different character.


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 cocktail, we’ve cracked the code to making that perfect, frothy foam.

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

New York Sour

More classic sour cocktails

Here are a few more of classic cocktails that are all part of the sour cocktail family. Sour cocktails are all mixed drinks that have liquor, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener.

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
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New York Sour

New York Sour

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5 from 2 reviews

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


  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey*
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 to 1 ounce simple syrup (or pure maple syrup)
  • 1 ounce dry red wine
  • Clear ice, for serving
  • Optional garnish: lemon twist


  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 (use clear ice for the best presentation). 
  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.


*If you’d like to add an egg white, add bourbon, lemon juice, syrup and egg white to a cocktail shaker and shake without ice for 15 seconds. Then add ice and shake again until very cold. Proceed to Step 2.

To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons.

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

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Marc Gagnon says:

    Nice twist on the classic whisky sour. The maple syrup was a nice touch.

  2. Chad says:

    Step 1 indicates to add “lemon juice” but there is no lemon juice noted in the ingredient section nor how much.

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Updated! This was inadvertently remove in a recent edit and it’s now been restored. Thank you!

      1. Chad says:

        I did see the quantity up above after I sent the email. Sorry about that! And, I just made it this evening– it was delish and so easy to make. I almost woke my wife up to have her taste it. Thank you!

  3. Marianna says:

    This cocktail is amazing! We made it with maple syrup and it was so good. Thank you for the recipe!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Could you add some seltzer/club soda for some fizz or would that ruin it?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      I haven’t tried it… A splash would probably be good but I wouldn’t do any more than that because the wine already thins it out. Happy New Year!

  5. Tanya says:

    Any food pairing thoughts?

  6. Luke says:

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

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

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

    2. Kay Owens says:

      Maple syrup makes all the difference! It makes this recipe distinctive and absolutely delicious. I use egg white every time because I love the creamy texture it imparts.