While everyone has heard of the Manhattan it’s less well known that New York’s other four boroughs also have cocktails named after them*. Today let’s look at the Brooklyn – a drink with issues. The main components of the Brooklyn are rye whiskey (or very often bourbon) and dry vermouth with added dashes of Amer Picon and maraschino liqueur. Now, I know some of you are thinking “I know where you’re going here, this is all going to be about the difficulty of getting Amer Picon outside of France!” but a) I’ve covered that already and b) we have even bigger fish to fry with the Brooklyn. I’ve always found the Brooklyn a bit dodgy but mostly put that down to my ambivalence to dry vermouth. I can’t have been the only one who had problems with this drink as there are a whole host of other variations (mostly by NY bartenders associated with Milk & Honey) which are named after neighborhoods of Brooklyn (we’ll get to those some other time) which perhaps suggests some dissatisfaction with the “original” recipe. But recently I was reading an article on the excellent Cold Glass blog called In for Repairs: the Brooklyn Cocktail. While you should really read the article, Doug’s point is that the earliest known version of the drink by Jacob Grohusko in 1908 called for a sweet vermouth but this was erroneously changed to dry vermouth soon afterwards and has remained so ever since. A similar story to the Aviation then. After almost injuring myself in a mad dash for my mixing glass I was immediately in full agreement. History is also in agreement as rye and Italian vermouth were faaaaar more common ingredients in turn-of-the-century New York than bourbon and French vermouth. This repaired version, while similar to the Manhattan (well, duh!), has extra layers of complexity from the maraschino and Picon. While it’s tempting to fire some bitters at it, do be aware that Cold Glass has only done this to compensate for his lack of Amer Picon**.
My version varies slightly from the Cold Glass one because I am lucky enough to be in possession of actual Amer Picon (as well as my own version of Amer Boudreau) and because, as in the Manhattan, using Punt e Mes keeps the drink from being too sweet. For similar reasons I decided to stick with a lemon twist as garnish but the cherry version is certainly a viable alternative.
2oz / 60ml rye whiskey (Rittenhouse being a good choice).
0.75oz / 22ml Punt e Mes (a bittered sweet vermouth).
0.25oz / 7.5ml Luxardo maraschino liqueur.
0.25oz / 7.5ml Amer Picon (or Ramazzotti and 3 dashes of orange bitters).
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon or a cocktail cherry.
Toast Jacob and Doug the inventor (possibly) and savior (probably) of the Brooklyn.
*Someone recently rectified the long standing omission of poor old Staten Island but it’s got a lot of catching up to do.
**I’d fully agree that the simplest decent solution to a lack of Amer Picon is Ramazzotti with a few dashes of a good orange bitters such as Regan’s