new york sour

If you created a mood board that accumulated all of my cocktail interests — whiskey, lemon juice, succinctness, and some kind of niche New York spin [see: Fairytale of New York, Perfect Manhattan] — you might also wonder why it’s taken 15 years for us to talk about the wonder that is the New York Sour. Let’s waste no more time without it. The New York Sour is, in fact, a classic whiskey sour — whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and an egg white, if you wish, for a more dramatic texture — with dash of red wine that, ideally, should float atop creating distinct layers that integrate as you sip. I had thought that rye is more common than bourbon, because rye can come from New York, but have yet to find that corroborated. Regardless, you can use what you have, as I did.

new york sour-02new york sour-16new york sour-17new york sour-18

Alas, I’m absolutely terrible at “floating” drinks; no amount of solid advice about bar spoons, surface trickles, or vigorous shaking to create more body to float another liquid in suspension on top of has improved my skillset. Consider these images a placeholder until a more skilled drinks stylist comes over and teaches me how to make them as pretty as the internet insists they can look.

For a Hanukkah party spin, I can never resist making what I call a Manischewitz Sour, using the sweet red kosher table wine classically used for kiddush (a blessing over wine) and Passover that’s much-derided and yet, I’m sorry, perfect here. There are three more nights of Hanukkah; I hope these bring them good cheer.

new york sour-20



6 months ago: Soy-Glazed Chicken and Chickpea Pan Bagnat
1 year ago: Vanilla Custard Slices
2 years ago: Challah Stuffing
3 years ago: Cabbage and Mushroom Lasagna
4 years ago: Endive Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Walnuts
5 years ago: Brussels Sprouts, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad
6 years ago: Pecan Pie and Roasted Leek and White Bean Galettes
7 years ago: Classic Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Sauce
8 years ago: Apple-Herb Stuffing for All Seasons
9 years ago: Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
10 years ago: Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Biscuits
11 years ago: Creamed Onions with Bacon and Chives and Sweet Corn Spoonbread
12 years ago: Creamed Spinach
13 years ago: Meyer Lemon and Fresh Cranberry Scones and Winter Fruit Salad
14 years ago: Pumpkin Waffles and Nutmeg-Maple Cream Pie
15 years ago: Classic Grilled Cheese + Cream of Tomato Soup


New York Sour

  • Servings: 2
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

  • Ice
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) rye whiskey or bourbon
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) simple syrup, plus more to taste
  • 1 large egg white (optional)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons red wine

Place a handful of ice, the whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white (if you’re using it) in a cocktail shaker or a jar with a lid. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker or glass is frosty and very chilled. Strain over more ice into two glasses.

Gently place a thin spoon upside-down at the surface of the drink and slowly, in the barest trickle, pour 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine over the back of it, moving it across the drink’s surface as you pour. If all goes well, the wine will stay at the surface of the drink. If it sinks, well, it’s still going to be pretty and delicious. Repeat with the second drink.

Note: To make simple syrup, combine 4 tablespoons granulated sugar with 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add 2 tablespoons of cold water (to speed up the cooling process) and pour into a jar or bowl to finish cooling. You’ll have a little more than you need here, but it keeps forever in the fridge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

48 comments on new york sour

  1. Elizabeth

    This sounds so tasty! I’ve never heard of a New York Sour, but I will make this soon. Now a technical question: have you ever made this with a red wine OTHER than Manischewitz? I’m wondering if the higher sugar content in Manischewitz makes it more dense, and therefore harder to get a good float.

  2. Corinne

    Deb I actually think it’s *because* you’re using manischewitz, which is “heavier” because of the high sugar content! A low-sugar red would probably float on the denser sugary base!

  3. Bentley

    Perfect timing! I have a bit of merlot – from WA state of course, WA wine forever! – left in my fridge from making clarified punch last week, and since I wasn’t a fan of the punch as much as I really wanted to be, I can give this a go tonight without feeling guilty for opening a whole bottle for a few ounces!

      1. Bentley

        I know I know but I was planning on making stew with it but I didn’t have a timeline and it keeps longer chilled in my experience. Plus now its ready for Deb’s latest!

        1. Rachael

          You can freeze red wine for stews!!! I do this all the time in a ziplock bag when I’m not going to finish a bottle but stew is too long on the horizon.

          1. Bentley

            All this to say…wow this is now tied with the boulevardier as my fave holiday drink. Deb, I can always depend on you to deliver right up my alley. My extended family has a tradition of whiskey sours on NYE and this just got voted to take that honor. So smooth. And that merlot was *mwah* even from the fridge heh. I did a dry shake with the egg white before adding the ice and the wine floated perfectly. That hint of wine with every sip is so lovely.

            1. Ann Greiner

              YES! Must dry shake the egg whites (with the simple syrup, whiskey) or they do not foam up quite enough. That’s how I make it, as well. My fave drink, with the Boulevardier being a close second!

    1. Alex

      Hi Deb, I love this drink and I make it all the time using a Bon Appetit recipe. The red wine never sinks! I promise I am not even careful with the spoon or my pouring technique. So it may be the kind of wine you are using.

  4. Mary

    I think Corinne is right about the Manischewitz being heavier, but it might also help to do what’s called a “dry shake” of the ingredients before adding the ice and shaking it to chill and dilute. This emulsifies the egg better so the base might be strong enough to hold the wine.

  5. Judy

    So glad to finally have a recipe that will use up our bottle of Manischewitz leftover from Passover and lingering in the back of our refrigerator for sangria. The New York Sour looks to to be the perfect holiday cocktail providing some extra warmth and cheer. Happy Hanukkah!

  6. R

    This article popped up on my google feed today, and I feel like I have to say something.
    1. For a creamier texture, use 1 egg white per cocktail.
    2. Dry shake for a thicker, creamier head.
    3. The point of the red wine is that the tannins add dynamic bitterness that cuts the acidity of the lemon, so use a dry red.
    4. Pour into chilled glasses but not over ice.

    My preferred spec for this is:

    1.5oz Bourbon (which can be made anywhere in the United States, including New York) or Rye of choice.
    .75oz Lemon juice
    .5oz Simple syrup
    1 Eggwhite
    Bar spoon of dry red wine

    1. Leslie

      Can I ask, what “texture” does the egg give the drink? Does it just make it creamy without using dairy? Or make it seem thick? Do you actually taste “eggy” flavor here?

  7. Laura

    I saw this fun recipe just a few hours before hosting a holiday dinner party. Had all the ingredients on hand and had just enough time to made a batch of simple syrup. This drink was a big hit!! I opted to not include the egg white and used a fruity Pinot noir for the float. It worked perfectly to make beautiful layers even with my clumsy pouring skills. Thank you for the festive and delicious recipe!

  8. Jodi Baker

    I am going to make this next weekend for friends who are coming over and will add my comments to “I made this”! I am also going to be serving the Winter Squash & Spinach pasta bake which I’ve made before and is delicious.
    DEB – curious about the citrus juicer you show in the photos for this drink recipe? Could you share what it is? Looking at upping my game for an easier way to juice my citrus.

  9. Jo Preston

    I conquered my fear of raw egg for this. Fear be damned! Delicious! Drank it while making your wild rice gratin. Yummy evening, thanks!

  10. Jo Preston

    One more thing I must add, I used Wollersheim round trip rye whiskey, a lovely Wisconsin concoction that you would be happy to add to your cabinet, among their many award winning wines and spirits. Go Wisconsin!

  11. Sarah

    This looks great and I’m excited to try it. Just FYI, bourbon doesn’t have geographical restrictions and there’s great NY bourbon available! I like Hudson Whiskey.

  12. Liz

    This was delicious, thank you for the recipe! And despite being totally incompetent, we were able to get the red wine to float. So I suspect the Manischewitz is the culprit.

  13. Annalisa

    One of my favourites since discovering it a few years ago! Just here to chime in with those saying it’s likely the wine preventing the floating. My reds (not Manischewitz) always float just by being poured over the back of teaspoon and I’ve never even made it with an egg white (which would presumably thicken it some), so it must be the wine.

  14. Pam

    This is delicious. Didn’t use an eggwhite, but like them in drinks. Really good in pisco sours. Used bourbon this time, next time I’m trying this with rye.

  15. fred moten

    Deb, I am a big fan of cocktails and a big fan of this one. I wanna point out a couple of things:

    1. If you have gomme syrup (syrup thickened with gum arabic) that’s going to help a lot because it will thicken the sour making it easier to get a float. (Also make it feel nicer in your mouth!)

    2. Most bartenders I’ve seen talk about this drink leave out the egg white, because it makes the bottom part less dense than wine (that’s the whole point of adding an egg white to a cocktail, to make it fluffier) which makes it basically impossible to get a float.

    I’ve made this drink many times and I’ve never been able to get it to float using an egg white :(

    1. deb

      Thank you! Based on the success others are having without the heavy Manichewitz, lol, I’m also thinking that’s an additional culprit. I’ll reshoot this soon!

    1. Jodi Baker

      This cocktail is SO good. I am a beginning bourbon/rye drinker. This is not spirit forward and has great balance.

      Shaking ingredients without ice works and was really frothy. We used a french appertif wine called Dubonnet for the floater…and it floated! It was pretty and delicious!

  16. Becky

    I’m intrigued! And reassured about trying the raw egg white in it after reading this article that suggests alcohol + citrus can kill off bacteria if given ~9 minutes to sit!

  17. Justin

    This is such a tasty and refreshing cocktail! We’ve made this a couple times already and just love it. I also made a variation the other night that has a bit of a holiday spice flavor, by replacing part of the whiskey with allspice liqueur (St. Elizabeth). Also very tasty!

  18. Jennie

    I loved this! Looked and tasted like a $15 cocktail from a fancy restaurant or bar (the ones I’m avoiding right now due to omicron)- thank you!

  19. Jennifer

    I made these over the holidays along with many other cocktails, and these were the favorites by far! Delicious and I managed to get the wine to float *most* of the time :) I did not use the egg white because, well, laziness.

  20. Deborah

    Gosh those were good! Made it with bourbon not rye. We used an open bottle of Pinot Noir. Round one egg white. Round two, no egg white and a little more simple syrup. Both delicious! Float was accomplished!

  21. Ivy

    These are so good! To make these vegan, I use aquafaba (the juice from a can of *unsalted* chick peas). I whizz it up in the food processor for maximum froth effect but a vigorous cocktail shake would probably work too!

  22. Linda

    Our niece’s partner made these NY Sours for us at last year’s holiday party. They were delicious and she made it look easy to skim the top with red wine. When I made it, it turned out to be a beautiful rosy beverage. My second attempt was a success! Maybe it was simply a second beverage that was needed? Thanks for sharing the recipe with proportions! Happy holidays!!!

  23. Sending this straightaway to my cocktail-loving friends. For a vegan version you can use aquafaba whipped up in place of the egg white (plus then you don’t have to figure out what to do with the leftover yolks).

  24. Maja

    I tried it with aquafaba instead of the egg white (I’m not vegan but that’s what I had in the fridge) and it was delicious! So smooth!