New York sour: an East Coast whiskey sour born in Chicago

A New York sour is a cocktail almost identical to a regular whiskey sour apart from one key difference: a float of dry red wine. But according to, the New York sour originated in the late 1880s in a different city:

The New York Sour updates the Whiskey Sour recipe (whiskey, lemon, sugar, egg white) with a float of dry red wine. The wine lends its aromatic qualities and deep red color to the drink. Reports trace the New York Sour back to the 1870s or 1880s, although it operated under other names during this time, including the Continental Sour. It’s possible that the New York Sour was created in Chicago, but in time, the New York label grabbed on and never let go.

That’s a bold claim, so I had to look for sources and I found a recipe from Difford’s Guide which shone a bit more light on the Chicago origin story (I can’t quote it for copyright reasons but it’s said to have been made by a bartender in Chicago and gained popularity when a New York bartender started serving it).

And some more from Dishes Delish:

I guess it wasn’t called the New York sour back then, but rather, the ‘continental sour’ or the ‘southern whiskey sour’. Chicago barkeeps started to refer to it as the ‘claret snap’ because of the added red wine.

The idea of the added “claret snap” is shared by a number of other sources. Let’s just say the New York sour being a Chicago creation isn’t a big secret.

With the origin story out of the way, here are the ingredients you’ll need to make an official IBA New York sour

  • 60ml Rye whiskey or Bourbon
  • 22.5ml simple syrup
  • 30ml fresh lemon juice
  • A few drops of egg white
  • 15ml red wine (Shiraz or Malbech)

Enjoy and please drink responsibly.

Cocktail related: a Christmas tree in a cocktail, Mountain Dew-flavoured cocktails, punches, and shooters, Moose Milk: the Canadian military cocktail, and an original clarified milk punch

(“New York Sour” by Malmaison Hotels shared with CC BY-ND 2.0 Deed licence)

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