Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bronxathon: Parting Bronxes

At last we’ve come to the end of Bronxathon. I’ve spent more time with this cocktail than I’ve spent with some people I know. To those out there who’ve Bronxed along with me, I salute you all. Hope you had some fun. I certainly did, and liked doing the original variations, though I gotta say that a month of Bronx Cocktails takes some stamina.

By now it’s pretty clear to me what I like in a Bronx and what I don’t. Below are a few thoughts that didn’t get covered in the preceding 16 posts, along with my two cents on what works.


Some of you have asked me about varying the fruit component. There are Bronx variations in my own collection dating back to at least the 1930s that call for pineapple, with or without orange. In my experience, the pineapple is a promiscuous fruit, ready to play with anything that comes along. The grapefruit is similarly friendly. But in general, I chose to go with the standard Valencia orange, a nearly ubiquitous variety of sweet orange for juicing. I’ve been thinking that we know that vermouth and gin go together—it’s that orange that causes all the confusion. I figured this crisis was basic to the Bronx Cocktail so I tried to keep it as part of the challenge. (I threw in a couple of close orange relatives now and then.)


Some recipes didn’t make the cut because they just didn’t seem all that distinguished or that Bronx-like. The Bronx Dry, which has no sweet vermouth or any fourth ingredient at all, is an example of a classic recipe that just isn’t any more a Bronx than white chocolate is chocolate.

Some Bronxes in this series could be considered definitive, others were intentionally created as novelties. The Income Tax and the Maurice stand out as solid classics. I think of the former as the basic Bronx and the latter a variation. I’d add the Captain Pell and Old Tom to this group because they taste like traditional Bronxes. For the off-beat ones, I especially like Spuyten Duyvil and Bronx Deco because they’re unusual, though all the amaro variations are good drinking.

To my taste, the Bronx Cocktail never quite seems to balance as a 4-ingredient cocktail but it improves with all sorts of small basic additions. It tends to do well with some kind of bitter component to connect the dots and make it whole—like a freer part of the music that seldom gets written into the score. David Wondrich notes in Imbibe! that the first recipe printed, by Billy Malloy, has orange bitters. The Bronx is really a 5-ingredient cocktail.

All right—enough. Bronx on, everybody.

1 comment:

  1. You say bitters. I say pickled onion. Thanks for the entertaining month.



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