New York Sours Are The Wine Cocktail That Takes You Back In Time

Amidst the celebrated ranks of classic cocktails like Manhattans and Negronis lies a hidden treasure waiting to be rediscovered. The New York Sour might not be a staple in every cocktail-lovers repertoire (yet), but its unique combination of bourbon, lemon, red wine, and egg white foam gives even the most popular cocktails a run for their money. It's a must-try for enthusiasts seeking a twist on the standard cocktail fare.

The allure of the New York Sour lies in its balance of tartness and sweetness, with a floating layer of red wine that brings sophistication and visual appeal. The egg white, though seemingly unusual, gives the drink a fuller body. This cocktail offers more than just a unique taste experience. As you enjoy its layered flavors, you're also sipping on a rich historical narrative. But before you imagine a crowded New York City speakeasy with patrons swigging New York Sours and Old-Fashioned cocktails, let's take a step back. The New York Sour has a story that might surprise you.

Was the New York Sour actually invented in New York?

This cocktail belongs to a family of drinks called, well ... sours, which includes favorites like daiquiris and whiskey sours. These recipes typically combine a strong spirit, zesty citrus, and a bit of sugar. Naval History Magazine suggests that we may have 18th-century naval physicians to thank for popularizing the combination of spirits and citrus. They did so to stave off scurvy in sailors, but the tasty concoction transcended this use and evolved as it made its way into bars around the world.

However, the New York Sour's origins might not link back to a New York bar. Rumor has it that it was first concocted by a bartender in Chicago and was initially known under other names like the Brunswick Sour and Claret Snap. H.O. Byron's 1884 cocktail book may be the first written mention of this drink, as it included a recipe called the Continental Sour that was similar to today's New York Sour, except it didn't include an egg white. Eventually, the cocktail gained popularity in New York City, so the New York Sour name stuck, despite its probable midwestern origins.

How to craft your own New York Sour cocktail at home

If you'd like to taste this historical drink, you don't have to depend on your local bartender, you can also make it yourself. In a shaker cup, combine ¾ ounce of simple syrup, 1 ounce of lemon juice, 2 ounces of bourbon or rye whiskey, and one egg white (although this is optional and you can also use aquafaba for a vegan alternative), then add ice. After shaking it vigorously, strain it into a rocks glass filled with ice or straight up in a chilled coupe glass.

The signature of the New York Sour is the wine float, which can seem technical, but it's not too tricky. (Plus, it's a good way to use up that last bit of leftover wine in your bar cart.) Carefully pour ½ ounce of red wine over the back of a bar spoon resting near the cocktail's surface. The secret to a proper float lies in the densities of the ingredients. The syrup's sugar content helps keep the bourbon base heavier, while a wine with a higher amount of alcohol by volume will float due to its lighter density.

To create your own spin on this cocktail, experiment with different bourbons and ryes, dry red wines, and flavored syrups. Whether sticking to tradition or venturing into new combinations, each variation offers a tasty take on this storied cocktail.