Continental Sour Cocktail with cherry garnish

Continental Sour – Delicious twist on a Whiskey Sour

When you’re looking for a Continental Sour recipe, you probably won’t find much information. Even worse, if you find information, it is often wrong. So I want to clear things up a bit and introduce you to my favorite twist on a whiskey sour.

First and foremost, the Continental Sour is NOT a New York sour. You can find this info on many websites, but it’s simply not correct. The cause for this confusion is that both cocktails originate from the same drink, which was (unfortunately) also called Continental Sour.
Back in the 19th century, this cocktail was created by adding any red-colored wine into a whiskey sour. There was no differentiation between red wine or port wine – it was all called claret, initially a traditional term for Bordeaux.

As the drink became more popular, the composition of the recipe also improved. The New York sour, created by adding a dry red wine float to a whiskey sour, was born. In return, the Continental Sour vanished. At least until a bar in Berlin brought it back to life. The Stagger Lee bar, to be precise. They made it a delicious continental cocktail by adding port wine instead of dry red wine and creating the Continental Sour. But that’s not the only difference to a NY Sour, which you can see in the recipe.

Rye or bourbon whiskey in a Continental Sour?

Before prohibition, rye whiskey was the liquor of choice when it comes to creating cocktails. After that, Bourbon Whiskey became more popular and a synonym for American whiskey. So the 19th-century version of a Continental Sour was based on rye whiskey, which works quite well with the red wine in a New York sour.

Today, a good, modern Continental Sour contains Bourbon. The sweet vanilla aroma works exceptionally well with port wine. And because this base spirit is somewhat sweet and the float is too, you need to balance this out by using less syrup or add slightly more acidity.
Further, as port wine can be pretty heavy, it may hide the nuances of the whiskey used in the cocktail. So don’t waste your most expensive Bourbon in this cocktail. A decent Mixing-Bourbon does the trick, and you can focus on adding a high-quality port wine instead.


The right Port wine

As mentioned already, the continental sour needs a port float. When it comes to choosing the right type of port, it’s usually between ruby and tawny. I strongly recommend a tawny port – precisely, I suggest you try doing your first continental sour with a Sandeman Tawny Port. It’s not too expensive, easy to get, and you can enjoy it pure – and chilled – as well. But be warned, once you started drinking chilled port, you might get addicted. At least that’s what happened to me on my first trip to Porto, the origin of port wine.


Use egg whites in a Continental Sour?

To include or not include egg white is not exactly a question of flavor. You can create your Continental Sour (and also New York Sour) with egg white and without. I am aware some people are reluctant to use raw eggs as a cocktail ingredient. But I encourage you to at least try it. If you skip the egg white, you’ll miss out on this beautiful creamy, frothy texture on top of this fantastic cocktail. It’s part of the drink and elevates it from good to outstanding.

If you can’t or don’t want to add egg whites, there’s a vegan alternative called aquafaba. It’s not my first choice for this cocktail, but generally, aquafaba is an excellent substitute for raw egg whites.


Continental Sour Recipe

Now I show you how you can create this beautiful port whiskey cocktail. The floating needs a bit of practice, but don’t despair if it’s not working out the first time. The cocktail will still taste amazing. I can promise you that. If you tried it, let me know how it worked out for you in the comments. Cheers


Continental Sour Cocktail with cherry garnish

Continental Sour

Bourbon-based twist on whiskey sour.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bourbon, whiskey
Servings: 1
Cost: $4


  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz Rich simple syrup
  • 1 pcs Egg white
  • 0.5 oz Tawny Port


  • Add Bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white to your cocktail shaker. Shake it intensively for about 15 – 20 seconds to create a solid egg white foam.
  • Open the shaker and fill it up with ice. Now shake again for 10 – 15 seconds.
  • Open the shaker and double strain it into a chilled old fashioned glass. 
  • Float it with port wine.
  • Enjoy.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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