Whiskey, sugar, lemon juice and red wine — the New York Sour is simple, classic, has an interesting history and appeals to both wine drinkers as well as whiskey cocktail fans.
I made a brief mention of the New York Sour when writing about Buffalo Proper last week.
My wife ordered the restaurant’s New York Sour, which was made with with Old Overholt, fresh lemon juice and a Rioja.
I’ve made more than a few of these from behind the bar at Forte. Here’s how one of mine looked the other day:
There’s a real beauty of a blog post about the New York Sour online here at Food 52.
The writer cites David Wondrich about the drink’s Chicago roots:
Drink History via Food 52:
According to cocktail authority David Wondrich, the New York Sour is not actually from New York, but rather from Chicago, where, in the 1880s, a bartender began dressing up his sours by adding a “snap” of claret.
But it was particularly popular in New York during Prohibition, when the wine, lemon, and sugar were handy camouflages for the not-so-hot whiskey of the era, and at some point, the name stuck.
Whatever its origins, you could drink a New York Sour anytime, anywhere, and it would feel right. But we’re partial to it for early fall, the way the puckery lemon swirls together with spicy rye and dark, warming red wine.
Also, this post on Serious Eats cites Wondrich’s book Imbibe! on the fact that the drink was also known as a “Continental Sour” and a “Southern Whiskey Sour” during the 1880s, with the name “New York Sour” mostly settled on by the early 1900s.
What wine to use?
- Wondrich says Claret.
- Food 52 says Malbec or Syrah.
- Buffalo Proper serves it with Rioja.
- At Forte we use Cabernet.
— Liquor.com recipe no. 1 and no. 2
— Liquor.com’s video recipe.
— Bon Appetit & Epicurious
About This Cocktail:
For my New York Sour pictured above, I used a California Cabernet — medium-bodied with notes of raspberry, plum skin & black currant and a velvety smooth finish. It complimented the drink nicely. Here’s the recipe:
- 2 oz rye whiskey or other whiskey of preference. I actually used 1.5 oz of Knob Creek bourbon, which is 100 proof and has a spicy rye-like bite.
- .75 oz simple syrup
- .75 oz fresh lemon juice
- .5 oz red wine
Add all ingredients except the wine to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a lowball glass filled with fresh ice. Using the back of a spoon, slowly pour the red wine into the drink — and if done carefully it should float for a short time on top of the whiskey sour. Garnish with a lemon wedge or wheel or twist.
Some recipes call for an egg white, as a lot of old sours recipes do… I like the recipes which list egg white as “optional.” I didn’t use egg white in the drink pictured above, but you’ll find it listed in some of the recipes I linked to in this post.