How To Give Your New York Sour Cocktail A Tequila Upgrade, According To A Bartender

A New York sour is just one of the many wine cocktails to try this summer. Made by shaking bourbon whiskey with lemon, simple syrup, and bitters, pouring it all over ice, and topping the glass off with a splash of red wine, the cocktail isn't necessarily a low-proof option. However, should you ever feel like giving it an upgrade by substituting the whiskey for tequila, there are certainly ways you can do so. If anyone knows how, it's Neal Bodenheimer, the bartender and founder of Cure cocktail bar in New Orleans.

"My wife's favorite cocktail is a New York Sour with reposado tequila. And it does benefit, it's delicious," Bodenheimer told Tasting table. Reposado and blanco tequilas maintain the base distillate that tends to get lost in the longer aged añejos. Bodenheimer said, "I think the whole beauty of tequila is the growing cycle. ... Blancos and repasados are really great. But you get beyond that, you kind of lose the base distillate. And the base distillate is such an important part."

Compared to the complex, spicy notes in añejo tequila, reposado tequila delivers a more mellow taste with notes of vanilla and oak. Blanco tequila, on the other hand, tends to be more crisp with complementary fresh, fruity agave flavors. As Bodenheimer told Tasting Table, both reposado and blanco tequilas can work in a New York Sour — which one you choose mostly depends on the wine you have.

The right tequila for your New York Sour comes down to the wine

Choosing the best tequila for your cocktail is not easy, and it doesn't get any easier when you throw wine into the mix. Neal Bodenheimer told Tasting Table that New York Sours were traditionally made with clarets, also known as a red Bordeaux. When sourced from the region, that typically constitutes a deep-red colored blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot. However, today it's also used to refer to a whole range of Bordeaux-style wines. They're the ideal dry, fruity red to use in a New York sour made with reposado tequila, as both have strong flavors that wont overpower the other.

While Bodenheimer said that a claret is good to have, it's by no means mandatory, and reposado could also work well in a New York sour made with another full-bodied red wine, such as a syrah, malbec, or zinfandel. If the cocktail is made with blanco tequila, on the other hand, Bodenheimer said that "you probably want something that's a little lighter and less viscous because you don't want it to dominate." Because blanco tequilas aren't aged, they don't impart any of the oaky flavors that reposados do, so you want a wine that will let the distilled agave flavors shine through. In this case, a gamay, pinot noir, and possibly even a rhóne or merlot could do just the trick.