Old Mr. Boston and His Bronx Cheer

Flipping through my Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide (1960 edition, naturally…), I was struck by how many random place names pop up in the cocktails.

There’s the Alaska and Alabama cocktails, but with no explanation, Old Mr. Boston gives no such honor to Arizona or Arkansas.

Baltimore gets representation in the form of both the Baltimore Bracer and the Baltimore Eggnog, but is there a Brooklyn ? No. Sadly, there’s not. No cocktail for you, Brooklyn.

New York rates two drinks, of course Manhattan gets its own (quite famous) cocktail, and even Fifth Avenue rates a drink, but strangely, of the boroughs Mr. Boston had available for cocktail honors, did he crown Queens? (That’d be a no.) Or stop by Staten Island? (That’d be a hell , no.)

Folks, Old Mr. Boston really held a flame for The Bronx.

Five cocktail listings for ye olde Bronck’s Land. And why is that, anyway? A nod to the thicket of bootleggers and gangs that thrived there during the prohibition era? Does it go even further back to even seedier activities? Only Mr. Boston knows.

And, well, yes… Wikipedia also knows. (Or at least it sorta knows.) Apparently the Bronx Cocktail was the toast of 1934, devised either by Bronx restaurateur Joe Sormani, or perhaps whipped up on a whim in Philly and named for The Bronx’s famed zoo. Aw!

Whatever the true origin story, we can appreciate the simple beauty of The Borough’s namesake cocktail.

All five variations focus on gin with various measures of vermouth, citrus juice and garnish. Easy to make, easy to drink.

I’ll list out my two favorites — the straight-up Bronx Cocktail which is rather like a gin-based Manhattan, and the evocatively named Bronx Terrace … obviously a summer drink, and that’s exactly how I envision 1934’s newly retired bootleggers: laid back, sippin’ on gin and juice in the really, really old-school Bronx style.

The Bronx Cocktail

1 oz dry gin
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz dry vermouth
Juice of 1/4 orange

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into a 3-ounce cocktail glass. Serve with a slice of orange.

The Bronx Terrace Cocktail

1 1/2 oz dry gin
1 1/2 oz dry vermouth
Juice of 1/2 lime

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into a 3-ounce cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

(Bronx) Cheers,
Miss Ginsu

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