Monday, March 14, 2011

Bronxathon: Spuyten Duyvil

Place names in the New York area have always fascinated me. Take the Bronx: it’s got a definite article, a letter ‘x’ at the end, and might even be some kind of collective noun—a totally distinctive name. Not really knowing what to make of it, I imagined a bunch of Lenape and Dutch guys standing around smoking cigars and talking to each other in New York accents, agreeing that this was the Bronx, a word common to both cultures, whatever it means. Later, I found out it’s named after a Swedish settler who worked for the Dutch, Jonas Bronck, from whom we get “Bronck’s River” and so on. But I’m still not convinced.

Anyway, they were drinking Dutch gin (genever) once upon a time in old New York, so I came up with a Bronx Cocktail variation based on this interesting spirit, and gave it a classic Dutch place name from the Bronx, Spuyten Duyvil. It seems this might mean “Spinning Devil” or possibly several other things. As you can see, folk etymology is something of a New York pastime.

Special thanks for the suggestion of the name to the same guy who called me all perplexed about the Bronx Cocktail in the first place. I’d say I couldn’t have done it without him, but we have another two weeks of this Bronxathon madness still ahead. Spinning devil, indeed.

Spuyten Duyvil
  • 1 1/2 oz genever (Genevieve)
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (Dolin Rouge)
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth (Dolin Dry)
  • 1 oz blood orange juice
  • 1 tsp Cointreau
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This is really the most different of the Bronx Cocktails I’ve done so far on account of the genever-style gin. Although technically a Bronx since all the pieces are there, the family resemblance isn’t that close. I like it, though. It’s bright, assertive and refreshing. The Cointreau could come up a little if you want it sweeter.

1 comment:

  1. As your only fan who's also passionately interested in English grammar, i can add regarding the definite article you mentioned that the general rule is that it is used only for place names that do not include a terrain feature or location. Thus, in San Francisco, we say The Castro but Eureka Valley. And back on subject, my friend Gloria's blood orange tree is bearing, so i'm gonna try mixing a Spuyten Duyvil. Thanks for the recipe and the background.


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