Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Introduction: People Used to Drink this Thing

My buddy calls me on the phone. He’s trying to make a Bronx and he just can’t seem to get the hang of it somehow. I know what he means. Strange to say it but for a classic that was once a big hit, the Bronx Cocktail confuses me. The recipes I’ve found almost all specify gin, orange juice, and sweet and dry vermouths in some combo, but can’t agree on a general idea of how the drink balances. You get the idea that everybody’s been making the same heroic effort to get a good one since the thing was invented. My friend on the phone is no different, and of course I can’t resist mixing in: bitters, orange bitters, spicy bitters, I can’t remember which vermouths I like and which ones ruin it completely, blah blah blah. We agree that orange juice is a problem in ingredient in cocktails. Good for punches and sours, but it seems to need a little help interacting with gin. The Orange Blossom, gin and orange juice, leaves me cold. And I gotta admit I never understood the appeal of all those Wallbangers.

But I’ve made tasty Bronxes. I’m not sure that they were from the very same brands or in the same proportions that the world loved once upon a time, but there’s no agreement about that anyway.

Doctor Cocktail says that the Bronx Cocktail faded from popularity because it demands fresh o.j. and bars didn’t want to squeeze the fruit for you. (Anyone who appreciates a fresh Margarita knows this is true.) It’s too bad. Maybe if Bronxes had a longer run, people would’ve decided once and for all what they were supposed to taste like.

Or maybe a Bronx is a classification of cocktail more than a flavor—a category, a type of drink, a state of mind, a course in a meal. (It’s also a whole borough in New York City so anything’s possible.) With this in mind, I bring you the Bronxathon, a month-long event devoted to trying different Bronx Cocktail recipes and writing about them every other day. (Let’s hope I’m not too nutty by the end.)

So without further ado, here’s the first Bronx Cocktail.

The Bronx
Johnnie Solon version, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar, c. 1900
  • 1 1/2 oz dry gin (Tanqueray)
  • 3/4 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp dry vermouth (Dolin Dry)
  • 1 tsp sweet vermouth (Dolin Rouge)
Mix well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

David Wondrich likes this one on a hot day, and I could see sucking a few down while trying to catch a breeze through a window in Pelham Parkway. Is it the Bronx of my dreams? Well, it’s quenching if a tad simple, and better than an Orange Blossom. But we have a bunch more to try.


  1. Did you really mean teaspoon each of the vermouths? I just made this, and it seems pretty one dimensional.

    With that said, I too have always had trouble with the Bronx. I look forward to you continuing this series, if that's what you plan to do.

  2. Yeah, folks here at the Lounge thought it kinda like that too. The next one will have more going on. I should be able to get that out this evening.

  3. Try the Income Tax, AKA "Bronx with Bitters".
    I've never managed a good Bronx. I've had a few very tasty Income Taxes. (It's still a bitch to balance, but a friendlier bitch.)

    Instructions: Please insert your favorite comments regarding the parentage and/or sexual proclivities of your neighborhood tax collector and/or legislator here.

  4. LOL—totally agree. (See http://foggedinlounge.blogspot.com/2011/03/bronxathon-income-tax-cocktail.html.) The Bronx definitely needs a dose of bitters to focus. The absinthe in the Maurice variation is nice too and serves the same purpose.

  5. Bronx-a-thon!? Excellent! I was already well on my way to a month of Yellow Rattlers but I may just have to play along at home with the bronx variations. I agree that it's more of a category than a drink per se. Kudos on the blood orange too!


  6. Thank you, thank you. And a Yellow Rattler would certainly have a place in this set.


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