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.
- 2 shots / 60 ml / 2 oz rye whiskey
- ¾ shot / 22.5 ml / ¾ oz dry vermouth
- ⅓ shot / 10 ml / ⅓ oz maraschino
- ⅓ shot / 10 ml / ⅓ oz Amer Picon (or substitute, such as Ramazzotti)
- Stir well with ice and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange zest twist.
Unfortunately the Amer Picon this drink was originally made with no longer exists.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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