Cocktails: The New York Cocktail

When it comes to home bartending, versatility can be your best friend. While you might be a little intimidated looking at a cocktail menu at a bar by the abundance of ingredients – particularly those bitters and syrups that you’ve never heard of – you can get a good amount of variation simply by swapping out like for like ingredients (i.e. lemon juice for lime juice, bourbon for gin, honey for simple syrup). In fact, some of the most iconic cocktails evolved from other iconic cocktails by way of one or two easy alterations to a recipe.

Take the sour, for example, which is a generic category of drinks containing a spirit, citrus juice, and a sweetener. While perhaps the first cocktail that comes to mind in this category is the whiskey sour, there are quite a few other highly popular drinks that are just an ingredient or two away from the whiskey sour – replace the whiskey and lemon juice with rum and lime juice and you have a Daiquiri, opt for tequila and lime juice with triple sec in place of the simple syrup and you have a Margarita. With just one or two substitutions you can quickly get from a whiskey sour to a Sidecar, Cosmopolitan, Aviation, or in this case the New York Cocktail.

The New York Cocktail is at heart a lime juice-based whiskey sour made with grenadine in place of simple syrup. It typically made with rye whiskey, which balances out the sweet and tart notes of the grenadine and lemon juice quite nicely with a bold spiciness. You’ll often see recipes specifically call for Canadian rye whisky, which may seem odd for a drink named after a city so definitively American. And while there’s not a lot of historical information out there on this particular cocktail, I can only assume that’s a leftover effect of Prohibition. During those thirteen years when producing alcohol in the United States was illegal, Canadian whisky reaped the benefits as bootleggers brought in plenty of the stuff to satisfy a country full of suppressed drinkers. Even after the 21st amendment, Canadian whisky remained a favorite across the country for decades. Regardless of the how and why, rye remains today a standard for sour-based and many cocktails in general.


Making the Drink



  • 2 oz Rye

  • 1 oz Lime Juice

  • ½ oz Grenadine

  • Lime Wheel Garnish



  1. Fill a martini or coupe glass with ice and water. Set aside to chill.
  2. Combine whiskey, lime juice, and grenadine in a mixing glass and shake vigorously with ice for 10 seconds.
  3. Strain into chilled glass and garnish with a lime wheel.



Blake Smith