September 5th, 2008

My drinking has been all backwards this year. Back in January when the weather was cold and miserable I was drinking bright summery drinks like the Country Bumpkin and the Sherry Cobbler, where as over the last few months, when the weather has been slightly less cold, though sadly often as miserable, the Old Fashioned and Manhattan have been my go-to drinks.

The Brooklyn, a variation on the Manhattan, is a rye-based drink that uses dry rather than sweet vermouth and adds a few extra ingredients to make things interesting. It’s a drink I’d never quite gotten around to trying, but back in July when I visited The Pegu Club I finally got to try one, and I enjoyed it so much that while I only ever had one it has become the cocktail the reminds me most of my tours around the bars of New York.

Brooklyn cocktail


View in: oz | ml | shots

Unfortunately the Amer Picon this drink was originally made with no longer exists. Amer Picon is still available, albeit not widely, but at a watered down strength which makes it less than perfect in the Brooklyn. The best alternative for Amer Picon is generally considered to be Jamie Boudreau’s recreation, but if you don’t have the time to make that Ramazzotti works very nicely. The guys over at Cocktail Buzz also recommend Amaro Nonino, though unfortunately I can’t seem to find any over here so my views on that version will have to wait until my next trip to the States.

The Brooklyn is a cocktail that lets the rye whiskey do all the ground work. Whereas in a Manhattan the sweet vermouth is fairly prominent, especially when using something like Antica Formula, here the dry vermouth takes a more subtle role behind the dominant rye flavours. The maraschino and Ramazzotti roll in after the initial spice of the rye, and provide a lovely mixture of aromatics, orange and that unmistakable cherry funk.

It’s also a drink that responds very differently depending on what rye you use. My usual mixing rye, Rittenhouse Bonded, plays a more equal part among the other ingredients resulting in a very round, complex drink, whereas something like the Vintage 21-year-old provides a lot more upfront spice, leaving the other flavours to slowly reveal themselves on the finish. It also works very nicely with the rather apt Hudson Manhattan Rye, a younger rye that yields a drink that is less smooth but full of interest.

It’s unlikely I’ll be back in America until the beginning of next year at the earliest, but every sip of a Brooklyn takes me back to those two weeks in July, if only for a few short moments. If you’re a fan of the Manhattan, be adventurous and stray out in to the suburbs…

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Posted in Amer Picon, Maraschino, Recipes, Rye, Vermouth

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9 responses to “Brooklyn”

  1. blair frodelius blair frodelius says:

    I’ve used Torani Amer in a Brooklyn. Seems to work for me. As for the rye, yes, Rittenhouse is my choice. Although I would not use the 21 year old for a cocktail as it is too pricey.

    I do wonder how you get such a great orange twist. What kind of orange do you use?

  2. Jay Jay says:

    Blair – I’ve heard good things about Torani Amer, but unfortunately like the Nonino it’s unavailable here in the UK. As for using 21-year-old… I don’t do it all the time, but if I’m in the mood for a bit of a treat I’ll sometimes use a more expensive bottle than my usual mixing brands.

    It depends on the drink, but in a cocktail like this where the rye takes centre stage, using a better whiskey does make a difference. And as Rittenhouse BIB costs the equivalent of about $50 here anyway, I’m resigned to the fact my cocktails are going to be expensive!

    Regarding the orange twists, it’s a normal Navel orange cut using an Oxo channel knife and then twisted tightly around a cocktail stick. I tend to keep it wrapped around the stick for a minute or two to help the twist last as long as possible. This one did seem to hold its curl more than usual, I think it may have been a slightly older orange.

  3. blair frodelius blair frodelius says:

    I feel bad for you! I get buy Rittenhouse BIB for $15, at my local store. However, even here in the Eastern U.S. I had to mail order the Torani Amer at $50 a bottle!

    As for twists, I’ve had great luck with lemon, less so wth orange (it seems to rip easily) and even less with lime (too hard). But, I try to make a 360 degree (around the fruit) peel if I can. It makes for an elegant and visually exciting presentation.

  4. ArmatureHour ArmatureHour says:

    wow, I pay $15 for the Rittenhouse and under $20 for the Torani – we may not have too many great bars in LA, but the liquor selection is pretty good. But you get Mock the Week and The Mighty Boosh on your TV – I have to watch them on youtube…

    I like the idea of substituting the Ramazotti, though. I often make regular Manhattans with Averna instead of sweet vermouth (everything else remains the same – 2 kinds of bitters [fees whisky barrel and angostura] and a 2 to 1 ratio of whiskey to Averna). They are really good in winter, so you should probably try one now, Jay.

  5. Jay Jay says:

    Blair – lime twists are indeed a nightmare. I rarely attempt them, I usually just cut a slice of the skin off and twist that over the drink.

    ArmatureHour – I love The Mighty Boosh! I was lucky enough to go to a pre-tour show a few weeks back at a tiny venue, was absolutely hilarious. Watching Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt just working off each other was great. Though Bob Fossil doing his “dancing” about 2 meters from you is a little off putting.

    Not tried that Averna variation, but it’s going on my list of drinks to try.

  6. Chris D Chris D says:

    The link to Jamie’s Amer Picon recipe seems to be borked somehow, I can’t quite decipher how it ended up the way it did. I think you meant to link to

  7. Jay Jay says:

    Oops – not sure how that happened either, fixed now though. Thanks for letting me know Chris!

  8. Davicus Davicus says:

    The Brooklyn is my all time favorite… I make mine with Averna – a nice amaro with an orange element – along with a dash of Ango Orange. Though I’ve never tried the real stuff (AP), I can’t help but feel that this is a faithful representation of the original cocktail.

    I actually ordered a few bottles of Torani Amer, but was not impressed. I find it somewhat flat and awkward. It simply doesn’t taste very good. An extra bit of syrup and orange bitters helps, but, again, Averna is the sub for me.

    Great site, I am constantly impressed / inspired by it!

  9. Jay Jay says:

    Davicus – Have you tried Torani Amer lately? It has apparently been totally reformulated to be much closer to Amer Picon, though I’ve not personally tasted a side-by-side comparison.

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