Classic New York Cocktails The Brooklyn

NYC Classic Cocktails: The Brooklyn

A Rejigged Manhattan Cocktail

It’s thought that the Brooklyn was created by an unnamed Brooklynite bartender, who was raised in Brooklyn City before it was swallowed up by New York and was fiercely proud of his regional identity.

Sometime in the 1900s, so the story goes, he was serving up lots of Manhattans and ran out of rosso vermouth, a vital ingredient of the Manhattan. He used dry vermouth instead. The main difference between a Manhattan and a Brooklyn is vermouth, rosso vermouth for the Manhattan and dry vermouth for the Brooklyn. Fed up with hearing about Manhattan, he named the cocktail, the Brooklyn and served it up as an alternative to the sweeter and darker Manhattan.

This mix of rye or bourbon whiskey, dry vermouth, and Angostura bitters has been loved for over a hundred years because of its peculiar bitter and sharp undertones.

The Debates of Cocktail Purists

American rye whiskey was first used as the whiskey ingredient, being used in NYC bars since the 1900s. This gives the Brooklyn a unique sharp and spicy taste. But time moves on and the original formula has been amended to include Canadian or bourbon whiskies as ingredients. But there’s still a rye versus bourbon versus Canadian whiskey debate, and there’s even an argument about the merits of a maraschino cherry versus a lemon slice.

Petty differences about lemons or cherries aside, the Brooklyn is a strong bitter alcoholic drink, and this makes it appealing to metropolitan bar drinkers who dislike sweet tasting drink, and as one of the Classic Five Boroughs Cocktails, no self-respecting NY bar can go without this New York cocktail on the drinks menu.

Cocktail Ingredients

  • 50ml Canadian, bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 25ml extra dry vermouth, we used Martini
  • 5ml maraschino cherry liqueur, we used Luxardo cherry liqueur
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ice

Garnish with

  • A maraschino cherry
  • A twist of lemon

Preparation Method

Stir the ingredients together with ice in a mixing glass, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish and serve up.