Nearly everyone is familiar with the ever-popular Manhatten cocktail, made with rye whiskey, sweet Vermouth, and Angostura bitters, but it may come as a surprise to some of you that it is actually 1 of 5 cocktails named after each of the New York City boroughs. It certainly surprised me. The first reference to the Brooklyn cocktail in print can be found in J.A. Grohusko’s Jack’s Manual back in 1908. The original recipe kept the rye whiskey and sweet vermouth that’s in the Manhatten, but also called for maraschino liqueur and Amer Picon, a French bitter with a distinctly orange flavor. The Brooklyn did make it into the Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, but its popularity faded in the decades that followed. At some point along the way the sweet vermouth was changed to dry, and the Amer Picon was no longer available here in the U.S., so various iterations of the recipe began to appear. The Brooklyn has experienced a resurgence since 2000, as have many of the classic cocktails. It’s impossible to make exactly like the original recipe because the Amer Picon is simply not available here, and the imported versions have been radically changed, but bartenders experiment with their own substitutions, as I’ve done today. There are also a number of versions of the drink that are riffs on the original and named after Brooklyn neighborhoods. We’ll talk about one of those tomorrow.
In making the Brooklyn for today’s post, I went with Bulleit rye because it’s good and strong at 95 proof. You’ll want to choose a high-alcohol rye in this cocktail so it’ll stand up well to what adds up to be a fair amount of additional booze. I chose Dolin dry vermouth because I happen to like it the best, and Luxardo Maraschino liqueur is pretty much the gold standard in most recipes so it seemed the only logical choice here. I had fun experimenting with different versions of a substitute for the Amer Picon. I sampled several of the Italian Amari that I had on hand, including Ramazzotti and Averna, and I gave just using Angostura bitters a shot, but I thought there might be another way to go. Since Amer Picon was originally French I decided to try Bonal Gentiane Quina, which I absolutely love anyway, blended with a dash each of Fee Brothers orange bitters and DRAM’s Citrus Medica bitters. I liked this version of the drink the best and I like to think it comes close to what the original would have tasted like. Feel free to experiment with your own modifications!
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and add ice. Stir 30-45 seconds with a long-handled bar spoon or until cold. Strain into a chilled martini or cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel. Enjoy!