Thirsty Thursday: A drink that’s nice to look at with a taste to back it up, the New York Sour

Drink pictured is a mixed whiskey drink, called the New York Sour. This drink is admittedly one of the drinks that you can hear the “higher-ups” talking about, making it real promising. Photo credits go to Alex Leo

You may be someone who likes a good mixed drink, but not necessarily whiskey or the mixed drinks that taste like you took the cap off of simple syrup and poured the whole bottle into the shaker. But, instead, the drinks you overhear “the adults” ordering at the bar. 

We’ve all heard of the whiskey sour made with bourbon whiskey and garnished with Angostura Bitters. However, this is a drink you can’t help but indulge in. 

The New York Sour introduces a new way of appreciating the balance of sweet and sour in a drink that’s smooth as silk. What separates the New York sour from its predecessor, the whiskey sour, is how the bartender adds a few delicate drops of egg whites and floating half an ounce of red wine to create a bright red layer to top the drink. Red wine has a lower density than whiskey and the drink’s other ingredients, creating a cocktail that can stand apart in a line and still be proud of itself. 

I first tried this drink at Romano’s Pizza Bar in Westport, Connecticut, paired with one of their personal sized Funghi, topped with wild mushrooms, caramelized onions and mozzarella cheese. 

I’ve spent enough time talking about the drink without explaining how to make it. The New York Sour is a simple drink that can find a home in just about anybody’s palate. I had no trouble making or taste testing this drink a few times to make sure I got it right — which I did.  

Once you grab your shaker and a whiskey glass, pour in two ounces of bourbon or rye whiskey. Add in one ounce of lemon juice (freshly-squeezed is preferably, but concentrate works fine in a pinch) and three-quarters of an ounce of simple syrup (I had Royal Rose’s Cardamom-Clove Simple Syrup on hand and loved it) into the shaker with ice. Tightly close the lid and vigorously shake it, then strain the drink into the glass over ice. 

The final touch, and the most difficult to achieve, is slowly floating the half ounce of red wine over a spoon. With your first few attempts, you’ll probably dot the soft white surface of the drink with red spots as if you had flung the spoon onto a white carpet — kind of a mess, but the taste is uncompromised.  

If you want to show your friends — or in my case, my father, who has high standards when it comes to whiskey — that you’re making a respectable cocktail and not just making an excuse to drink on a weeknight, you can add a garnish of orange peel and cherry. 

The New York Sour, like the Statue of Liberty, is less of a New Yorker than it may appear. The lattert was technically placed in New Jersey waters in 1886, and the cocktail was said to be born in a Chicago bar one night between the 1870s and 1880s. Both now fall under the official and unofficial jurisdiction of the New York government and local lore. 

The drink was called the Continental Sour before moving east to NYC, where it reportedly gained popularity as the Brunswick Sour. The drink finally started to represent the city as a whole sometime after earning the name of the New York Sour. The origin story of this drink, like many other creations of the culinary world, is a debate no one can seem to win.The drink’s true creator is unknown. 

However, the recipe I used originally comes from a book written by spirit and cocktail expert, a co-founder of the New York Distilling Company, Allen Katz. 

It doesn’t matter whether you down this drink in the Windy City or the city so nice they named it twice. What’s important is the company you drink with and the conversations that follow you under warm lights. 


  1. Ohh, interesting! And who can tell me more details about strong alcohol? I would like to know about different whiskey or liqueur. I will be glad if someone can share useful information!

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