Named after the Bronx Zoo, this charmer will bring out the beast in you
Spring is here, and we’re looking for a refreshing thirst-quencher. You know, something to restore us after a day of planting seeds and annuals.
What could be better than an OJ-tinged elixir? This one has soothing flavor – plus a hue that reminds us of the springtime sun.
The Bronx Cocktail is a smooth one. And not too heavy, so you can have two if you want. After all that planting, you deserve it.
Recipe: The Bronx Cocktail
The Bronx blends gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, and orange juice into a satisfying tipple. It’s very similar to The Income Tax Cocktail. In fact, the main difference is that the Income Tax contains bitters, while the Bronx does not.
In addition, the Bronx contains more vermouth, at least as it’s made these days. Originally the drink had just a bit of both sweet and dry vermouth (that’s what the recipe in The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book specifies). Most people today add more vermouth, and our recipe reflects that.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to make, and serves one.
- 1½ ounces dry gin (most gins are dry; see Notes)
- ¾ ounce dry vermouth (white French vermouth)
- ¾ ounce sweet vermouth (red Italian vermouth)
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice (you may prefer 1 ounce; see Notes)
- garnish of orange twist or slice (optional)
- Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake hard for about 20 seconds, until the contents are nicely chilled.
- Strain into a cocktail glass (preferably one that’s been chilled). Garnish, if you like, and serve.
- Like the Income Tax Cocktail, the original Bronx Cocktail called for no more than ¼ ounce each of dry and sweet vermouth. Most people today think that’s just not enough, so ¾ ounce of each has become the standard. But if you’re not a vermouth lover, reduce the amount to your taste.
- We prefer ¾ ounce of OJ in this drink, but some people like to increase the amount to 1 ounce. Your choice.
- BTW, do try to use freshly squeezed OJ. Bottled certainly works, but freshly squeezed has a brightness of flavor that makes the cocktail smile.
- Why shake this drink? Because it contains an opaque ingredient (the orange juice) that’s most easily combined when shaken.
- Shaking forms oxygen bubbles, which can give drinks a cloudy appearance. So when all the ingredients are clear, most bartenders stir to avoid that. But with opaque ingredients like citrus juice, that’s not a problem. So shake away.
- When a cocktail recipe specifies gin, it’s usually understood to mean dry gin. “London” dry gin is the most common style (it originally was distilled in London), but there are other styles of dry gin that are fairly similar (Plymouth gin, for example). Don’t stress about whether a particular gin is London dry. Just buy a decent dry gin with a name label (not generic gin -- you know, the kind with “gin” in big black letters on a white background).
- If a recipe requires a gin that’s not dry, it will normally specify what you should use. Not-dry gins include Dutch or Belgian gin (sometimes called jenever or genever) and Old Tom gin (which has a sweet taste).
- Like The Hearn's Cocktail, The Bronx was developed at the original Waldorf Hotel in New York.
- The Waldorf Astoria is a well-known luxury hotel on Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The current hotel is a second iteration. The original was actually two different hotels (the Waldorf and the Astoria) that were built side-by-side on Fifth Avenue at 33rd Street. The hotels merged in 1897, but were demolished in 1929 for construction of the Empire State Building, which now stands on the site. That’s when the hotel moved to its current location on Park Avenue.
- According to The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, The Bronx Cocktail was invented by bartender Johnnie Solon (or Solan). As the story goes, the head waiter of the Empire Room (the main dining room at the original Waldorf) challenged Solon to make a new drink. Solon accepted the challenge, and mixed up the first Bronx. The head waiter (whose name was Traverson) thought the drink tasted wonderful, and predicted it would become extremely popular. Which indeed it did.
- When asked about the name, Solon said it wasn’t named after the borough of Bronx or the Bronx River. Instead, he noted that he had visited the Bronx Zoo a day or two before he invented the drink, “and saw, of course, a lot of beasts I had never known. Customers used to tell me of the strange animals they saw after a lot of mixed drinks. So when Traverson [asked me what to call the drink] I thought of those animals and [named it the Bronx].”
- The Bronx Zoo is located in the Bronx borough of New York City (the borough just to the north of Manhattan).
- The Bronx is also home to Yankee Stadium, where the New York Yankees baseball team plays. Over the years, a variety of animals have played for the Yankees (or at least that’s what Boston Red Sox fans claim).
“Swell drink,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “And appropriate for the beginning of baseball season.”
“You’re thinking of the Bronx Bombers?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Mrs K R. “I’m not a fan of the Yankees, but they do have a storied history.”
“And their fans have a storied history of raucous behavior,” I said. “Always willing to let the players — and the umpires — know what’s on their minds.”
“Speaking of which,” said Mrs K R, “this is political season too! I might be tempted to let some of the candidates know what’s on my mind.”
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I said.
“Yup,” said Mrs K R. “Definitely time to practice our Bronx cheer.”
You may also enjoy reading about:
The Income Tax Cocktail
The Hearn's Cocktail
Monkey Gland Cocktail
Jack Rose Cocktail
Or check out the index for more