Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bronx Cocktail

I live in the Bronx, so the fact that the Bronx cocktail was on Imbibe's list of beginner drinks seemed serendipitous. As I mixed it, I wondered what combination of circumstances went into the naming of this drink. What was it about gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, and orange juice that screamed "the Bronx"?

Unlike the Rosita, the Bronx cocktail is rich in lore. One of its supposed inventors, Johnny Solon, claimed that some of his customers used to talk about the strange animals they saw at the Bronx Zoo; others, meanwhile, talked about the strange animals they saw after drinking cocktails. Solon, connecting the two, allegedly named this drink "The Bronx."

If true, that's a pretty lame story; after all, hallucinations and delirium tremens aren't limited to the Bronx cocktail! According to Solon, the drink came about on a dare: he was making duplexes and a customer dared him to come up with a new drink. On the spot, he modified a duplex and put together a Bronx.

My preferred story is that the drink was created (or at least stolen) by Joseph S. Sormani, a Bronx restauranteur, who either made it up himself or tried it in a Philadelphia bar. Either way, he offered it at his bar, put his borough's name on it, and the rest is history.

And, apparently, the Bronx is a historical drink. In 1934, it was ranked number 3 in the list of the world's ten most famous cocktails. Number one was the martini, number two the Manhattan.

Always a step behind Manhattan. Sigh.

At any rate, the Bronx cocktail inspired a comic and was, allegedly, the drink that led "Bill W" on his road to rack and ruin. Nick Charles said that it must always be shaken to "two step time." While romantic, this is total claptrap.

As a fan of all things Bronx, I really wanted to like this one. On the bright side, it was sweet and the little bit of OJ gave it a nice taste to offset the gin. Unfortunately, there's a lot of gin, and the heavy ginny flavor and cloying taste of the vermouths yield a cloying taste that wasn't all that great. Better than the Rosita, at least. Virginia hated it.

The Bronx Cocktail
(from The Ultimate A-To-Z Bar Guide)

1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce fresh orange juice
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
orange slice

Shake liquid ingredients with ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass or serve over ice in an old-fashioned glass Garnish with orange slice.

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