New York Sour

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Cocktail History

The New York Sour is a classic whiskey and wine cocktail that is believed to have first been created by a bartender in Chicago, Illinois in the 1880s. Most famous for its colorful layers, the recipe is a simple variation of the classic Whiskey Sour that calls for rye or bourbon, lemon, simple syrup, and a dry red wine float, which is what gives it the gradient.

The drink has gone by many names over the years, starting out as the Continental Sour then Southern Whiskey Sour, Claret Snap, and Brunswick Sour before it was officially named after the City That Never Sleeps, likely after a Manhattan bartender started serving it and made it popular in the 1900s.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Bourbon: This is the base spirit. We went with Knob Creek 9 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon because it’s rich and full bodied with notes of smooth vanilla and caramel.

Lemon Juice: This adds sour citrus flavors for balance. We prefer to use fresh citrus juice because it’s less bitter than the bottled stuff and tastes better.

Simple Syrup: This is a sweetener made with sugar and water. You can buy bottled simple syrup in a store, but we made ours at home using Alex’s recipe because it tastes better fresh and is very easy to make.

Dry Red Wine: This is another spirit made from red grapes. We went with Jacobs Creek Double Barrel Shiraz because it’s a dry, full-bodied red wine that’s aged in oak, which complements the whiskey well.

Tasting Notes

The New York Sour starts with acidic aromas of dry red wine and has a taste that mostly features the classic whiskey-laced lemony sweetness of a sour with the added tannins and dry grape flavors of red wine mixed in.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: We rarely find a layered drink we like, but we both thought the wine mixed really well with the rest of the formula while we sipped it and that it gives an extra fruitiness to the mix. The sheer variety of red wines out there give this cocktail literally thousands of possible variations too, which adds even further to its wonder.

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“I’ve always loved the New York Sour, and I probably order it more often than the classic Whiskey Sour on which it’s based. The dry quality of the red wine adds a lot to the profile of the cocktail, in my opinion, giving it a slight puckering quality that offsets the general sweetness of the whiskey well. And for what aesthetic is worth, its gradient color is always a showstopper in a bar. The New York Sour really has the fajita effect in that whenever one walks past a table, the patrons there will usually say, ‘Ooooh, I’ll have whatever that is.'”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Because of my previous experiences tasting layered drinks, I’m usually pretty skeptical that they’ll be balanced without having to mix up the ingredients and ruin the layering altogether. I can see why this recipe became a classic though. The initial taste of whiskey followed by the aftertaste and mouthfeel of the red wine is a fascinating combination with its spice rounded out by fruitiness, and they don’t need to be mixed at all. I would drink this again!”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from The Essential Cocktail Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Drinks by the editors of PUNCH and Megan Krigbaum.

AuthorThe Essential Cocktail BookPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 2 oz Bourbon
 1 oz Lemon Juice
 1 oz Homemade Simple Syrup
 ¼ oz Red Wine

Method
1

Add bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass over a clear ice cube.

4

Carefully float red wine on top with a bar spoon.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 2 oz Bourbon
 1 oz Lemon Juice
 1 oz Homemade Simple Syrup
 ¼ oz Red Wine

Directions

Method
1

Add bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass over a clear ice cube.

4

Carefully float red wine on top with a bar spoon.

New York Sour

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More Wine Cocktails

If you like this wine cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

 Minute To Midnight: A brandy cocktail made with pear liqueur, Angostura aromatic bitters, dry sparkling wine, and a lemon twist

 Enchantress: A brandy cocktail made with ruby port wine, orange curaçao, lemon juice, and a lemon peel

 Mountaintop Meadow: A vodka cocktail made with elderflower liqueur, simple syrup, lavender bitters, dry sparkling wine, a pineapple wedge, and mint

 Coronation: A sherry cocktail made with dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur, orange bitters, and an orange peel

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