Blend the warmth of whiskey, the tang of fresh lemon juice and a hint of red wine and you will get the iconic New York Sour Recipe.
We decided to celebrate my son’s successful launch into college independence with a few nightcaps on our recent visit to the City That Never Sleeps. I asked the bartender to suggest a very New York drink, and he handed me this layered concoction. The New York Sour starts with a bit of wine, then moves to whiskey and lemon. It’s like your taste buds started in Soho and quickly made their way to Chelsea.
Believe it or not, this cocktail may not have even originated in New York! There are various stories on how the New York Sour came to be, but it’s been claimed that bartenders in both Toronto and Chicago were the originators of this classic drink. It first arrived on the cocktail scene back in the 1800s, and started out its journey as the Continental Sour. And it’s endured through history, from Prohibition to present day.
The New York Sour is reminiscent of a Whiskey Sour but with more panache. As we toasted the night away, we tried some other New York drinks like the Manhattan, but my tastebuds kept longing for another round of New York Sours.
Which Is The Best Whiskey To Use?
You know how bartenders in both Toronto and Chicago laid claim to inventing this delicious drink? Well, the type of whiskey you use may come down to which city you believe. Rye, otherwise known as Canadian whisky, has a bit of spice to it. It’s more robust and peppery than bourbon, which bears a sweetness—hints of caramel and vanilla—its counterpart to the north does not have. So, up for something smooth and sweet? Reach for Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, or your favorite bourbon. If you want something more robust with a kick to it, raise a rye like Crown Royal or Bulleit to the sky.
- 2 oz whiskey preferably rye or bourbon
- 1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 0.5 oz red wine a dry variety is best
- 1 egg white (optional)
- Mix the whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker without ice. If you're using the egg white, add it in now, too.
- Add ice to the shaker and give it another good shake to chill the drink and meld the flavors together
- Pour your mixed cocktail into a glass through a strainer. Then top it off with a splash of red wine over the back of a spoon, positioning it just above your cocktail’s surface.
Tips & Tricks for a Perfect New York Sour
- Use freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of store-bought to avoid all the extra additives.
- Your New York Sour is as good as your whiskey. Invest in a quality bourbon or rye for the best results.
- Pouring the wine over the back of a spoon directly above your mixed cocktail’s surface helps the wine float at the top, enhancing your drink’s visual appeal and taste.
- Go for a dry red wine to help balance out the sweetness. I recommend Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Shiraz.
The New York Sour takes the Whiskey Sour to a new level by including sugar and dry red wine—and possibly an egg white.
An old-fashioned glass or any style of stemless glassware is the best choice. As for garnish, don’t feel obligated to include one; this is one cocktail that can be served with a naked rim, so to speak. But if you want to enhance the experience, use a lemon twist, a cherry, and/or an orange slice.
The egg white is a classic ingredient in the New York Sour, contributing to its frothy and creamy consistency. Try it at least once for a more authentic experience, but remember, it’s not for everyone, and that’s okay. You can always leave it out or use an egg white substitute.
There are 252 calories approximately in this New York Sour, most of which comes from the whiskey. There are “lighter” versions you can get; if the calorie count is a concern, keep an eye out for these. You can also drop the simple syrup or use erythritol or stevia.
Mix the whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup, then pop it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Hold off on the egg white and wine until right before preparing the drink. If you have leftover New York Sour, take out the ice and pop the mix back in the fridge. It’ll last a day or two. Just give it a good shake before serving.
Similar ‘Sour’ Cocktails Worth Trying
The New York Sour Mocktail: Replace the whiskey with non-alcoholic distilled spirits, keep the fresh lemon juice and simple syrup, and top it off with alcohol-free red wine.
The Paloma Sour: Take the tequila, grapefruit juice, and lime juice found in a traditional Paloma and mix with simple syrup and egg white.
The Midori Sour: Mix Midori (obvs) with sweet ‘n’ sour mix and a lemon-lime soda.
The Pisco Sour: With Pisco as your base, add lime juice, egg white, simple syrup, and a few dash of bitters. (Follow the link to learn more about Pisco.)
The Whiskey Sour: Features whiskey (preferably bourbon), lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, and bitters.