New York Sour Cocktail

A picture-perfect cocktail that tastes good too, this recipe for a New York sour uses a touch of red wine for a fruity pop of color and flavor. It’s a fun twist on the traditional whiskey sour.

New York Sour Cocktail

Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

With its striking two-toned appearance, the New York sour cocktail seems like it was made for the age of social media. In fact, it dates back to the 1880s. A boozy, wine-laced take on a whiskey sour, this cocktail is fall-ready with a floater of Malbec.

Like many oddly named cocktails, the New York sour is a misnomer. The drink originated almost 800 miles away in Chicago. So how did it get this mismatched name? 

Rumor has it that the cocktail became popular in NYC bars and they settled on the name there after going through titles like the “continental sour” and “claret snap.” But those stories are unconfirmed, so let’s file this cocktail’s name origin story into the unknown folder.

New York Sour Cocktail Next to Some Lemon Wedges

Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

What Makes It Special? Red Wine

A New York sour’s taste is not unlike a standard whiskey sour, with a sweet lemony whiskey base, with one big exception: the addition of wine gives the drink an unexpected pop of berry flavor. 

As the cocktail’s base is already sweet from the addition of simple syrup, I’d stick to a dry red wine. I use a Malbec, though a claret—a British term for Bordeaux red wines—is traditional. Other options include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Best Type of Whiskey

While a whiskey sour can be made from any type of whiskey, go for rye here. The spicy nature complements the rich wine. It also doesn’t get lost among the other ingredients as some softer whiskies could. Old Overholt is my go-to rye for mixing cocktails, but if that’s not available to you, try Redemption Rye or Whistle Pig.

New York Sour Cocktail with Ingredients (Bottle of Whiskey, Lemon Wedges, Jar of Simply Syrup, etc) and Bartender Supplies in the Background

Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

Adding an Egg White (and Alternatives)

If you’re familiar with whiskey sours, including an egg white is an option here too. The addition of an egg white is not true to the original recipe, but it’s an ingredient that has found its way into favor for quite some time now. 

The argument for the addition of egg white to a drink like this is two-fold: it creates a pleasant mouthfeel and it helps meld the ingredients together while toning down any sharpness from the harsh whiskey and tart lemon.

If you’re vegan or just don’t want an egg white in your drink, you can substitute aquafaba for the egg white (use an ounce in place of the white). You can forgo it altogether, too.

How to Create Pretty Layers

If creating the beautiful layers in this drink makes you nervous, never fear. Even if your float goes a little wonky, it’s not going to change the way the drink tastes. 

A tip: the easiest way to get the wine to float its way across the top of the drink is to slowly pour it over the back of a spoon that is just barely touching the top of the drink. You can even move the spoon a bit as you pour to make sure the wine distributes evenly. 

New York Sour Cocktail with Ingredients (Bottle of Whiskey, Lemon Wedges, Jar of Simply Syrup, etc) and Bartender Supplies in the Background

Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

More Sours for Sipping

New York Sour Cocktail

Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Serving 1 serving
Yield 1 cocktail

The egg white is optional and can be substituted with 1 ounce of aquafaba for a vegan version.


  • 2 ounces rye whiskey

  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

  • 1 egg white, optional

  • 3/4 ounce red wine, such as Malbec, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon


  1. Combine the ingredients:

    In a cocktail shaker filled 2/3 with ice, pour in the rye whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white, if using.

  2. Shake:

    Shake hard for 20 seconds, and then strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.

    New York Sour Cocktail Poured into a Glass with Ice from a Cocktail Shaker

    Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

  3. Add the wine:

    Position a spoon over the drink as close to the top as you can get without touching the liquid. Slowly pour the red wine over the back of the spoon to create a layer on top. Serve.

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    Red Wine Layer for New York Sour Cocktail Carefully Poured onto the Back of a Bar Spoon to Trickle into the Glass

    Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

    New York Sour Cocktail

    Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
177 Calories
0g Fat
9g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 177
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 9mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 4mg 22%
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 62mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.