New York Sour Cocktail Recipe

New York Sour Cocktail Recipe: Honeyed Twist on a Classic

The New York Sour is a classic whiskey cocktail that traditionally combines rye or bourbon, lemon juice, and a touch of sweetness from simple syrup, all topped with a float of red wine.

To add a unique twist, we're going to use a flavorful honey syrup instead of simple syrup and add an egg white for a frothy, creamy texture.

This honeyed twist on the classic New York Sour not only brings a different kind of sweetness but also a depth of flavor that pairs brilliantly with the bourbon and the tartness of the lemon. The egg white gives the cocktail a velvety smooth mouthfeel and a visually stunning, frothy top.

Enjoy this delightful reinterpretation of the classic New York Sour!

Related: Bourbon Cocktails

How to make a New York Sour 

Here's the recipe,


  • 1 cocktail shaker
  • 1 rocks glass


  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey or Bourbon
  • 1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 0.75 oz Honey Syrup (equal parts honey and water heated until combined, then cooled)
  • 1 egg white
  • 0.5 oz Red Wine (a bold and fruity red like Malbec or Shiraz works well)
  • Ice


  1. Add the whiskey, lemon juice, honey syrup, and egg white into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Perform a 'dry shake' (without ice) vigorously for about 20-30 seconds. This helps to emulsify the egg white and create that lovely froth.
  3. Add ice to the shaker and shake again until well-chilled.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a rocks glass filled with ice.
  5. Carefully pour the red wine over the back of a spoon so it floats on top of the drink, creating a beautiful layered effect.

Recipe notes

Choice of Whiskey: While rye whiskey or bourbon are traditional for a New York Sour, you may prefer one over the other. Rye will bring a spicier note, while bourbon adds a sweeter, fuller-bodied flavor.

Honey Syrup: Making your own honey syrup is simple. It's a 1:1 ratio of honey to water. You can heat them together in a small saucepan until the honey dissolves, then let it cool. Store it in the fridge for future use. Using honey syrup instead of simple syrup adds a rich, floral sweetness to the cocktail that complements the whiskey and lemon juice.

Egg White: The egg white adds texture and body to the cocktail. Make sure to shake it vigorously and long enough without ice first (dry shake) to create that perfect froth. If you have a dietary restriction or allergy, you can use a few drops of a vegan foaming agent like chickpea brine (aquafaba) as a substitute.

Red Wine Float: This final touch adds complexity to the drink and creates a beautiful visual effect. Pouring the wine over the back of a spoon helps it float on top. A fruit-forward wine like Malbec or Shiraz works well and complements the flavors in the cocktail.

Glassware: Traditionally, a New York Sour is served in a rocks glass. However, you could also use a wine glass for an elegant presentation.

Ice: Using large ice cubes not only looks great but also melts more slowly, preventing the cocktail from becoming too diluted.

Remember, part of the fun of mixology is making each cocktail your own. Feel free to tweak the ratios or ingredients to suit your palate. Cheers!

Ingredient substitutes

Here are some possible substitutions for the ingredients in the Honeyed New York Sour:

Whiskey: If you don't have bourbon or rye, another type of whiskey will still work. Irish whiskey can be a good substitute, as it has a smooth and light flavor. Brandy or dark rum can also be used, but these will significantly change the flavor profile of the drink.

Honey Syrup: If you don't have honey, you can revert to the traditional simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water). Alternatively, you can use maple syrup or agave nectar, which both offer unique flavor profiles.

Lemon Juice: If you're out of lemons, other citrus juices like lime or grapefruit can also work but will give the cocktail a different twist.

Egg White: If you can't use egg white, for dietary or allergy reasons, a few drops of a vegan foaming agent like chickpea brine (also known as aquafaba) can create a similar frothy top.

Red Wine: If you don't have red wine, you could use a fruity rosé or even a dark port. The important thing is to use a wine that's bold enough to stand up to the flavors of whiskey and lemon. It's also possible to omit the wine float entirely, but you'd be missing out on that classic New York Sour visual and flavor element.

Experiment and find what you love. Don't be afraid to get creative with your substitutes!

Bartender crafting a New York Sour cocktail

Best bourbons for a New York Sour cocktail

1. Fat Baby Bourbon: Known for its characteristically smooth and full-bodied flavor, Fat Baby Bourbon makes the top of our list. It brings a pleasant sweetness to the New York Sour, balancing perfectly with the tartness of the lemon and the rich, floral notes of the honey syrup. Plus, its caramel and vanilla undertones add an extra layer of complexity to this classic cocktail.

2. Four Roses Single Barrel: A step away from the mainstream, Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon offers a complex flavor profile with notes of ripe plum, cherries, and a hint of robust oak. This unique flavor combination infuses a distinct richness to the New York Sour that is truly remarkable.

3. High West Campfire: This bourbon, with its unusual blend of scotch and rye whiskeys, imparts a smoky essence to your cocktail. High West Campfire bourbon is sure to give your New York Sour an adventurous twist, setting your drink apart from the crowd.

4. Hudson Baby Bourbon: This 100% corn bourbon, made in small batches, brings a beautiful, slightly sweet, and mildly spicy flavor to the New York Sour. The rich caramel and vanilla notes of Hudson Baby Bourbon play wonderfully with the honey syrup and the lemon juice.

5. Widow Jane 10 Year Bourbon: Aged for 10 years, this bourbon boasts a distinct character with an essence of toasted grains, cherries, and stone fruits. This complexity marries well with the New York Sour's ingredients, making each sip an exciting exploration of flavors.

The best bourbon for your cocktail is often the one that suits your personal preference, so don't hesitate to try different and unique options.

Best red wines for a New York Sour cocktail

1. Malbec: Known for its dark fruit flavors and smoky finish, Malbec makes an excellent choice for the red wine float in your New York Sour. Its bold taste profile holds up well against the potent mix of bourbon, lemon, and honey syrup, adding an additional layer of complexity to the cocktail.

2. Syrah/Shiraz: With rich flavors of dark fruit, spicy pepper, and bold tannins, Syrah (also known as Shiraz) adds an exciting kick to the New York Sour. Its robust flavor profile matches perfectly with the sweet and sour notes of the cocktail.

3. Zinfandel: A fruit-forward, medium-bodied Zinfandel brings out the citrus and honey flavors in the cocktail. With a little bit of spice and plenty of ripe fruit flavors, it's a great choice for those who prefer a slightly sweeter and spicier wine.

4. Cabernet Franc: A bottle of Cabernet Franc offers flavors of ripe berries, plum, and bell pepper, with high acidity and moderate tannins. This rich, complex flavor profile complements the tartness of the lemon and the sweetness of the honey syrup.

5. Montepulciano: This Italian varietal, characterized by its deep red color, bold tannins, and flavors of blackberry, plum, and herbal notes, gives the New York Sour an elegant twist. The complexity and depth of Montepulciano work beautifully with the honeyed bourbon base of the cocktail.

The float is not just for show; it adds a unique flavor and complexity to your cocktail. We suggest using red wines that you love every time you make the cocktail until you find what you love.

Related: Fat Baby Bourbon Blog

New York Sour recipe final thoughts

Our unique twist on the classic New York Sour Cocktail Recipe takes an already exceptional drink to new heights. By incorporating honey syrup and egg white, we've added layers of depth, richness, and a wonderfully creamy texture to this classic bourbon cocktail. 

The red wine float not only gives it a beautiful visual appeal but also contributes an extra layer of complexity. The blend of sweet, sour, and fruity flavors results in a well-rounded and sophisticated cocktail that's sure to impress. 

So gather your ingredients, embrace the art of cocktail crafting, and enjoy this delectable twist on the traditional New York Sour. Cheers to your mixing adventure!

Bartender finishes New York Sour cocktail with a garnish

New York Sour FAQs

What is the difference between a whiskey sour and a New York Sour?

A Whiskey Sour is a classic cocktail made with whiskey (often bourbon or rye), lemon juice, and sugar. A New York Sour is essentially a Whiskey Sour with a float of red wine on top. The wine adds a layer of complexity to the flavor and a beautiful visual contrast.

Why is it called a New York Sour?

The cocktail was first made popular in Chicago in the 1880s, but it was given the name 'New York Sour' by a bartender in Manhattan who decided to float a layer of red wine on top of a traditional whiskey sour. The name has stuck ever since.

What does a New York Sour taste like?

A New York Sour tastes like a delightful mix of sweet, sour, and fruity flavors. The whiskey provides a warm, smooth base, the lemon juice adds a zesty tang, and the sugar (or in our unique version, honey syrup) brings a sweet balance. The red wine float introduces a hint of fruitiness and a bit of dryness, creating a multi-layered cocktail that's satisfyingly complex.

What type of person drinks a whiskey sour?

A Whiskey Sour is enjoyed by people who appreciate the balance of sweet and sour flavors combined with the smooth warmth of whiskey. It's a classic cocktail loved by those who value tradition but also appreciate the room for creativity that this cocktail allows.

Is a whiskey sour a classy drink?

Absolutely, a Whiskey Sour is considered a classy and timeless drink. It's one of the oldest known cocktails and has a rich history. It's also often served in elegant glassware, further enhancing its classy image.

Can you order a New York Sour at a bar?

Yes, you can typically order a New York Sour at a bar, especially at cocktail bars or establishments with a wide-ranging drink menu. However, availability might depend on whether the bar stocks all the necessary ingredients, especially the red wine which is essential for this particular cocktail.

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