New York Sour


In this sophisticated take on a whiskey sour, a vibrant float of fruity red wine hovers at the top of the glass for a striking presentation.

New York Sour
Photo: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas
Active Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
5 mins

The perfect balance of fruity red wine and smoky-sweet bourbon, the New York Sour cocktail is a classic for a reason. Shaking the cocktail with large ice cubes will chill the cocktail without diluting it — and those large cubes look great in a rocks glass, too. Be sure to pour the wine slowly over the back of the spoon to create the perfect float. If you're feeling adventurous, add an egg white to the shaker for a thicker viscosity.

The New York Sour is recognized by the International Bartenders Association as an official cocktail in the category of New Era Drinks; it originated in the late 1800s and has also been called the Continental Sour and the Southern Whiskey Sour. While the ingredient list is fairly standard, there is a bit of room for variation. This recipe specifies bourbon, but some versions of the cocktail use rye whiskey instead — experiment with both and decide which you prefer. You'll get more spice notes with rye, and a sweeter, more mellow vanilla profile with bourbon.

When it comes to the wine, you'll want to choose one that's fruity and dry. Gamay or a drier Zinfandel are great options, as is Syrah or Malbec. If you're trying to avoid refined sugar, maple syrup is a fine substitution for simple syrup — don't worry, the amount used is not enough to make the drink taste like maple. And if you do want to go for that thicker viscosity, the egg white will froth things up nicely; for a vegan drink, use a couple tablespoons of aquafaba instead.


  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) bourbon

  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) simple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) fruity red wine, such as Zinfandel or Gamay

  • 1 stip lemon zest


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup; seal lid on shaker and shake until chilled and frost forms on shaker, about 15 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with large ice cubes.

  2. Gently and slowly, pour wine over the back of a spoon held just above the cocktail's surface, letting the wine float at top of glass. Pinch lemon peel over the cocktail and run it around the rim of the glass; add peel to glass as a garnish. Serve immediately.

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