The New York Sour cocktail is a delicious classic whiskey drink that's as tasty as it is beautiful! Red wine creates a deep red-colored, fruity layer on top of the whiskey sour base. Egg whites are optional, but the white foam layer that stays on top creates a gorgeous finishing touch (and a creamy deliciousness when drinking!)
The New York Sour can be traced back to the late 1800s. The classic Whiskey Sour had been created a few decades earlier, and although there is no written record, it's speculated that it was actually created by a Chicago bartender. The drink came to be known as a Continental Sour or a Southern Whiskey Sour before eventually gaining popularity in New York, and somehow the name stuck!
Usually, a Whiskey Sour with egg whites is considered a Boston Sour, so that's what this cocktail is based on. This drink is delicious both with or without the whites.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this cocktail:
- Whiskey - rye whiskey is typically used in this cocktail, although you can also use bourbon for a milder flavor. I used Sazerac rye whiskey, which I highly recommend!
- Red wine - typically a dry red wine is the best option for this drink, like a Malbec or Pinot Noir. Dry wines actually float better than sweet wines, because more sugar causes the liquid to be heavier.
- Lemon juice - preferably fresh lemon juice. This brings a bright and tangy flavor to the drink.
- Simple Syrup - this gives the cocktail sweetness as well as body. You can use a store bought syrup, or make your own at home.
- Egg whites - these are optional, but I definitely recommend them! You can use pasteurized from a carton, or fresh if you feel comfortable using them. Pasteurizing them reduces the risk of food-borne illness. Pasteurized whites work just as well for foaming, but you will have to shake for a little bit longer to build the foam.
Here are some ways you can substitute the ingredients in this cocktail:
- Whiskey - if you don't have whiskey, you can try using dark rum or aged brandy.
- Red Wine - if you're not into red wine, you can use rosé or white wine here. You just won't be able to see the layer as well, but it'll still taste good!
- Syrup - instead of simple syrup, you can use maple syrup or agave nectar. For a more potent drink, use 4 teaspoons of superfine sugar mixed together with the lemon juice instead of syrup.
- Egg whites - for a vegan alternative, you can use aquafaba (the starchy water from cooked chickpeas). Or, you can try a pre-made cocktail foamer, like the one made by Fee Brothers.
Here are some variations on this recipe:
- Keto Friendly New York Sour - it's easy to make this into a more keto-friendly drink. Just switch out the simple syrup for a syrup made with a sugar free sweetener. My favorite to use is allulose! You can use store-bought sugar free syrup, or you can find more info on how to make your own in my How to Make Simple Syrup post.
- Virgin New York Sour - if you're avoiding alcohol, you can use a whiskey substitute, like Ritual whiskey alternative, along with an alcohol-free wine to make this cocktail. (I like Fre Non-alcoholic wine blend by Sutter Home.) Just substitute them in equal amounts for the whiskey and wine.
- Passionfruit version - try adding in a tablespoon of passionfruit puree. This will give a ton of extra flavor and will go beautifully with the wine. You could also use a passionfruit liqueur, like Chinola liqueur, as long as you then reduce both the whiskey and the syrup by ¼ ounce each.
Some specialty bar tools will help make this drink simple and easy! You'll need a cocktail shaker and strainer, and a jigger to measure the ingredients. You'll also need a bar spoon or a teaspoon for the red wine. A second fine-mesh strainer will also help with the foam, and to get out any lemon seeds or pulp from the final drink.
If you want to create the foam but have a hard time with shaking, I recommend using a milk frother instead of doing a dry shake. Or, use a blender ball so you don't have to shake as hard.
For the serving glass, this is typically served over ice in an old fashioned glass. If you prefer, you can use a stemmed wine glass too. You can also make it in a coupe glass without ice.
If you need any new bar equipment, I really love the products from A Bar Above! Grab a 10% off using my discount code, LKDrinks. Their bar tools are really durable, and also can be thrown in the dishwasher for an easy cleanup.
Begin the drink by adding lemon juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker.
Next, add in the egg whites and the whiskey.
Create the foam by shaking all of the liquid without any ice. If you vigorously shake for a full minute, you can create a really stable foam. Or, use a milk frother if you have trouble with the shaking.
Then, add some ice to the shaker and re-seal it.
Shake it again, and you only need about 15 good shakes to get the liquid chilled and diluted.
Add fresh ice to your serving glass.
Strain the drink onto the fresh ice. If you have both a regular and a fine-mesh strainer, you can double strain as shown in the photos.
Then, it's time for the wine float. Carefully pour the red wine over the back of a spoon and direct it into the cocktail. It should create a beautiful red layer on top of the drink.
Serve and enjoy!
Hint: Try to pre-chill your cocktail glass in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This will help the drink stay colder longer!
Frequently Asked Questions
This delicious cocktail is a Whiskey Sour with a float of red wine on top. Optional egg whites give it another striking visual with a layer of white foam.
This drink has a whiskey and lemon base, giving it warm oaky notes contrasted with bright and acidic lemon. The red wine float brings some fruit notes as well as a little tannic dryness. The resulting drink is both complex and delicious!
Although the red wine float is stunning on its own, you can add a garnish to take this drink to the next level. Try using a piece of lemon peel, or a slice of lemon attached to the rim of the glass for a classic garnish. You can also get fancy by adding a maraschino cherry to a cocktail pick along with a piece of lemon peel for some contrasting colors.
New York Sour
- Add the lemon juice, simple syrup, egg whites and whiskey to a cocktail shaker.
- (If you are not using egg whites, skip this step.) Seal the shaker and do a dry shake, which means shake everything without ice. Shake vigorously for at least a full minute to get the most stable foam.
- Add ice to the shaker and shake again (a wet shake). You only need to shake about 15 to 20 times.
- Add ice to your serving glass.
- Strain the drink into the glass. If you have a fine mesh strainer, use it here along with the regular cocktail strainer. This is called "double straining".
- Carefully pour the red wine onto the back of a bar spoon and into the glass. This will create a floating layer of wine at the top of the drink.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Rye is typically used, but bourbon whiskey also works well in this drink.
- Egg whites are optional, but create a nice foam on top as well as rounding out the flavors.
- You can use pasteurized egg whites or fresh, and both will be able to create the foam. If you use pasteurized, dry shake for 2 minutes instead of 1.
- If you have a hard time shaking, use a milk frother instead of doing the dry shake.
- Dry red wine works best in this drink. The less sugar the wine has, the better it will float. Try a Malbec or Pinot Noir.
- Garnish: you can optionally add a lemon peel to the rim of the glass, or use a cocktail cherry on a pick for an extra garnish.