Having been derailed yesterday by a National Pi Day Old-Fashioned and an oh-so-tempting Kentucky Bourbon pecan pie, I am back on schedule with a modern day riff on Monday’s classic Bronx cocktail. I did some searching, but was unable to find any recipes that were actually present day takes on the Bronx. Not to worry – I was more than happy to come up with my own interpretation! In keeping with the spirit of the original drink, I wanted to create something that was still light and refreshing, but different enough to be considered a true variation. If you recall one of the theories behind the Bronx cocktail, it’s believed that Johnnie Solon kept the drink on the lighter side because he’d created in summertime when temperatures in New York city would have been soaring. I buy that theory, but I think it’s equally important to remember that he was making the drink for a mid-day customer, and that’s just as compelling a reason to keep things light. So if I was behind the bar at The Big Brass Rail at lunchtime but it was the middle of winter, what spur of the moment cocktail might I come up with?
I decided to keep the main spirit the same for my variation, but to take my citrus in a slightly different direction. Blood orange is a winter citrus and I happen to love everything about it anyway – its color, its flavor, its drama – so I used it in place of the regular orange juice. I also swapped out the Dolin dry vermouth for Fabrizia Spirits blood orange liqueur, and I went with Carpano Antica as the sweet vermouth. I thought it would deepen the flavor just a bit, and I’ve used it with blood orange before and like the combination very much. I also like the way blood orange works with rosemary, which I consider to be a winter herb for some reason even though it’s in a million summer dishes. I think it might have something to do with rosemary’s ability to winter over; I’ve seen mine still thriving outside with snow on it! I reached for my bottle of Botanist gin which is decidedly more botanical (no surprise there), and I infused it with some rosemary sprigs to create even more intensity. The end result is a cocktail that is full of the somewhat surprising flavor of blood orange, made all the more bracing by the wild herbal streak brought in by the rosemary. I felt like it hit me the way the cold would if you stepped outside of a warm bar on a winter afternoon, and that was exactly what I was going for.
Bronx in Winter
Combine all the ingredients in the bottom half of a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake for about 20 seconds until cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a rosemary sprig. Enjoy!
*To infuse the rosemary pour 2 cups of vodka into a container and add some rosemary sprigs. Keep checking it until the flavor is where you want it to be. Mine took 2 hours. Once it’s ready you can discard the rosemary sprigs. If you want to intensify the flavor even more you can muddle some rosemary in the bottom of the shaker tin.