13 September 2010

Benito vs. the Cocktail: The Other Four

As far as I can tell, there are no classic or legendary cocktails named after Memphis. Aside from a few novelties that have shown up in various databases, I haven't uncovered anything serious or notable bearing the name of our fair city. By contrast, there are separate cocktails bearing the names of New York's five boroughs. The Manhattan is perhaps the most famous and most enduring, and has become a favorite of mine over the past few years. But what of the other four?

The Queens Cocktail is a perfect martini with pineapple (perfect meaning equal parts red and white vermouth).

The Queens Cocktail
1½ oz. Gin
½ oz. Sweet Red Vermouth
½ oz. White Vermouth
1 Ring of Pineapple

If you're using canned pineapple, stick to the stuff packed in juice, not syrup. Or to make it faster and easier, consider substituting half an ounce of pineapple juice instead of working with the fruit. Muddle the pineapple in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the remaining ingredients, add ice, and shake and strain into a martini glass.

As I said, this is basically a martini, but the sweetness and fruit juice give it a softer edge, and it's better suited to hotter weather.

The Bronx Cocktail is similar to The Queens in that it is a modified perfect martini, but with a bigger portion of fruit juice. According to some sources, if you add Angostura bitters this becomes an Income Tax Cocktail, though like most recipes from the turn of the last century there are many variations.

The Bronx Cocktail
2 oz. Gin
1 oz. Orange Juice
½ oz. Sweet Red Vermouth
½ oz. Dry White Vermouth

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass.

You get the impression that this was a morning eye-opener for folks in the pre-Prohibition era, a beverage that, like the Bloody Mary, could be rationalized as part of a healthy breakfast. It's actually softer and better balanced than a Screwdriver, even though the gin and vermouths add so many other elements to the drink.

I had a weird experience with the Staten Island Ferry. The drink, not the water transport. For the latter, my grandfather has pictures from a Navy shore leave circa 1946 where he and a buddy are hanging out with a couple of young women from Staten Island. He pointed out that only because the ladies gave them fake phone numbers would he later meet my grandmother, eventually leading to my birth 30 years later. So, er, thanks Staten Island gals!

In my own odd story, a girlfriend who didn't drink much tried to order a cocktail in a bar in Dallas. She told the bartender that it was made up of Midori melon liqueur and Kahlua. He politely suggested that wouldn't work well, and she and went through a few other iterations before eventually remembering that the combination she was thinking of was coconut rum and pineapple juice. Without further ado...

The Staten Island Ferry
1 oz. Coconut Rum
1 oz. Pineapple Juice

Combine in a highball glass with ice, and serve. It is precisely what it looks like: a quick shooter that is a lazy variation on the Piña Colada. Too sweet for my tastes, and also a much newer entry to the cocktail world. (The other three recipes shown here have been around since around the Prohibition era.) But there are a lot of people who would really enjoy this.

I saved my favorite for last. The Brooklyn Cocktail is a clever, delicious, and classy variation on the Manhattan.

The Brooklyn Cocktail
1½ oz. Rye Whiskey or Bourbon
½ oz. Dry White Vermouth
¼ oz. Maraschino Liqueur
¼ oz. Amer Picon

What's Amer Picon? It's a form of bitters from France. It's fairly obscure these days, so I substituted Averna Amaro. Combine everything in a shaker with ice, shake, strain into a martini glass and serve.

The baseline of this cocktail is very much like the Manhattan, but on top of that you get all the nice herbal notes from the bitters and the nutty, cherry flavors from the Maraschino.


Constance C said...

hmm maybe i should have moved to staten island... ;)

Benito said...


Glad to have input from a real New Yorker, even if you've only been there a few days now. ;)


Paul M. Jones said...

Drinking the Brooklyn cocktail is a little bit like drinking a chocolate-covered cherry: sweet, a little syrupy, with cocoa and cherry flavors.

Benito said...


Great description, and it just goes to show how versatile various bitters are--whether the tiny concentrated bottles, or the big ones like Campari and Averna.

Also, in honor of Brooklyn I have to once again link the great 1989 MTV video "Going Back to Brooklyn".

Man, I don't think so.


Michael Hughes said...

You know I love a good cocktail. These look quite tasty.

Allen said...

Happy Birthday.


Benito said...


Thanks again for the birthday wishes!


I think you'd enjoy the Brooklyn, and I'm sure you've got access to Torani Amer or some of the other Amer Picon substitutes.


Dennis Schafer said...

Thanks for linking to my site, and glad you liked the Brooklyn Cocktail! Sorry that you cant find the Torani Amer in your neck of the woods. I had to go to California to pick mine up :)

Benito said...


And thank you for writing good, concise cocktail recipes. Out of all the Brooklyns I looked at, yours was the Brooklynest. :)

Seriously though, with cocktail recipes I like to link back to a good writeup so that folks can see a different take on it, look at a different photo, and read some different perspectives.