You'll no longer have to buy a plane ticket to get in on the cocktails at Seattle's Essex: Owners Brandon Pettit and Molly Wizenberg (a.k.a. Orangette) will be sharing their favorite recipes with us, every other week. Drink up, people.
Today: Dress up your rye in autumn's finest.
Playing around with booze and inventing new cocktails might be the best job a person could have, but the truth is, it’s hard to top an old classic like the New York Sour. It’s the kind of drink that belongs in every repertoire: balanced, handsome, good on its own and with food, complex but eminently sluggable. Basically, it’s a whiskey sour, but made with rye whiskey, always, and finished with a red wine “float,” or a small amount of wine poured carefully into the glass at the very end, so that it floats in a tidy layer on top.
It sounds fancy, and it looks even fancier, but it’s not hard to get the hang of the float. The easiest way to do it is to hold a spoon upside down over the glass, either just above the surface of the drink or barely touching it, and pour the wine over back of the spoon, so that it cascades gently into the drink without sinking. Ta daaa: a two-tone cocktail, straw yellow below and crimson above. It’s a good party trick. (Though you’ll want to drop in a cocktail straw and suggest that your guests stir before drinking -- that’s how it tastes best.)
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.
New York Sour
Adapted from Kenaniah Bystrom
1 3/4 ounces rye whiskey, preferably 90 to 100 proof
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce rich simple syrup
1/2 ounce dry red wine (such as Malbec or Syrah)
Lemon twist for garnish
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.
Photos by Molly Wizenberg