Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Bourbon Cocktails

Ward III Whiskey Sour

Shot from a dramatic upper angle, this cocktail in a rocks glass is a whiskey-brown, topped with a thin layer of egg whites that is dotted with four drops of red wine. A cherry and an orange wheel on a pick garnish the glass, and its background is a dark blue that fades to black.
Image:

Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

The Whiskey Sour is a gold standard of sours—a sweet, tart, and boozy mixture of whiskey, lemon juice and simple syrup. However, one way to add an additional complexity and a striking visual appeal to the drink is to make it a New York Sour. This century-plus old variation on the traditional sour is a simple one: the drink is finished with a crimson float of red wine.

That’s how bartender Kenneth McCoy made the standard of Whiskey Sour at New York City’s now-shuttered Ward III. McCoy was using Heaven Hill bourbon, a bottled-in-bond bourbon from Bardstown, Kentucky. McCoy found that the soft caramel notes of Heaven Hill bourbon could handle a little extra tartness, so he adjusted the normal proportions in the drink from equal parts citrus and simple syrup to a bit heavy on the lemon side. And, as with a New York Sour, he added a red wine float using chianti, a relatively high-acid red wine.

The balance in this drink is also helped by the inclusion of egg whites. Beyond giving the drink a beautiful layer of foam—which is created in part by dry shaking the drink with no ice before shaking again with ice—egg whites also add richness and a silky mouthfeel that can smooth out some of the sharper, more acerbic edges of the citrus juice and tart red wine.

To really step up the visuals of the drink, it’s possible to pour the red wine carefully down the back of a bar spoon whose tip is just under the layer of egg white foam. When poured, it should settle and float under the foam, creating a vivid red band between the lush brown drink and the white foam. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t come out right the first time. As with any bartending trick, it can take many tries to get down. That just means more opportunities to try McCoy’s balanced, intriguing take on this classic.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Heaven Hill bourbon

  • 1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup

  • 1 egg white

  • 1 teaspoon Chianti red wine, to float

  • Garnish: maraschino cherry

  • Garnish: orange wheel

Steps

  1. Add bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white to a shaker and dry-shake (without ice) vigorously for 30 seconds.

  2. Add ice and shake again until well-chilled.

  3. Double-strain using a hand-held strainer into a chilled rocks glass over fresh ice.

  4. Gently float the wine on top by drizzling it over the back of a bar spoon.

  5. Garnish with a skewered maraschino cherry and orange wheel.

RAW EGG WARNING

Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.