A Short History of the New York Sour
The Once Obscure Cocktail Is Everywhere Now and Much Imitated.
This week I wrote about cocktails with floats and sinkers for The New York Times. A “float” is the industry term for a liquid ingredient that is carefully applied to the surface of a cocktail after the rest of the drink has been completed. The less familiar “sinker” also refers to a liquid ingredient that is added at the end but, owing to the weight of the liquid, it sinks to the bottom of the glass. In both cases, an eye-catching striped effect is achieved.
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(“Float” is a common term in cocktail circles and has been around for many years. “Sinker” is relatively new and, as far as I can tell, not wholly agreed upon. But all the bartenders I interviewed for the Times article concurred that it is the word that fits best, and the word they have heard most in relation to the technique.)
I wrote the article because, in the past six months, I’ve seen a proliferation of these sort of drinks. In the past, they were rare sightings. These days, it seems like every menu has at least one float or sinker drink. No doubt, this is a reflection of our newly visual society; floats and sinkers look great on social media.
The cocktail with a float that is seen most often is the New York Sour, or variations on it, of which there are many, many. It many be one of the most riffed-upon cocktails in the nation right now.