Unlike the Manhattan and the Brooklyn, this cocktail doesn’t actually take its name from the borough, or even the nearby river. In actuality, it’s the namesake of the gargoyle beast hound from Gargoyles, the American cartoon series produced by Disney Television Animation and Buena Vista Television that originally aired from 1994 to 1997. Wait, that doesn’t make a lick of sense – let me check my facts… no, that’s all wrong.
The drink was created in 1906, not post-1997 – that’s my bad. Here’s the real story: a man of not inconsiderable reputation by the name of Johnny Solon was tending bar at the Big Brass Rail at New York’s Waldorf Hotel. The drink was created in response to a challenge from one of the bar’s waiters. Mr. Solon had been to the Bronx zoo a day or two before this challenge was laid down. During his visit to the zoo (which had only opened a few years previously), he saw all manner of beasts that he had never known. When the waiter asked him what he was supposed to tell the customer with respect to the name of his creation he claimed that it was impossible to discern any difference between the zoo and his bar. “Oh, you can tell him it is a Bronx,” he purportedly said.
A couple years later and the drink appeared in William Boothby’s 1908 book, “The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them”, and quickly achieved cocktail celebrity status. Apparently, by the end of Prohibition, only the Martini and the Manhattan were more popular than the Bronx. This cocktail is reputedly the first cocktail to use fruit juice. Egad.
- 2 oz. Beefeater 24 gin
- 0.75 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
- 0.5 oz. Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth
- 0.5 oz. Martini & Rossi dry vermouth
Add everything to a shaker (I used a Parisian shaker for no other reason that it looks amazing), along with ice, and shake the bejeezus out of it until properly chilled (about 12 seconds or so). Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish. Orange twist if you must, but I’m of the mind that it’s orange-y enough without the twist.
Those with a keen eye may surmise that the Bronx is essentially a perfect Martini with orange juice. I have to agree with that postulation. On the subject of juice, it’s of the utmost importance to use freshly squeezed orange juice. Put the Tropicana back in the fridge and back the fuck away. And don’t think you’re being sly by squeezing a bunch of orange juice ahead to save some time – according to Kevin Liu, orange juice develops “an unpleasant bitterness” just 30 minutes after juicing.
This drink is of the light and simple variety. A great lunchtime thirst quencher when you need something with more kick than a Mimosa or a Bellini. I went with Beefeater 24, which has piney juniper upfront with grapefruit, tea, and floral notes mingling in the background. Other juniper-forward gins like Tanqueray would also be fantastic. Bombay Sapphire is a bit too delicate for this one – it gets lost in the orange juice.
Lastly, if you add bitters (Angostura) and an orange twist you get an “Income Tax” cocktail. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.