8 Different Ways to Make the Brooklyn Cocktail, Spanning From 1883-1945

Not only did the country’s most esteemed drinks historian, a Brooklyn native, write us a thoroughly researched history of the Brooklyn Cocktail, he also furnished not one but eight historical recipes for variations of the theme.

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The Brooklyn Cocktail. Photo credit: Sharon Radisch

Leave it to David Wondrich. Not only did the country’s most esteemed drinks historian, a Brooklyn native, write us a thoroughly researched history of the Brooklyn Cocktail, he also furnished not one but eight historical recipes for variations of the theme, complete with a 1945 joke that calls for both DDT and the branch of something that famously grows in Brooklyn. Shake up one of these to justify your beard and unicycle, or just head out and order one. These days, the Brooklyn Cocktail is proudly poured at bars across the borough.

1. Brooklyn Cocktail (1883)

Stir well with ice:
1½ ounces Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
1½ ounces Martini & Rossi red vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Strain into chilled cocktail glass and twist a swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top.

2. Brooklyn Cocktail (1914)

Stir well with cracked ice:
1½ ounces Rittenhouse Bonded rye whiskey
1½ ounces Noilly Prat dry vermouth
½ teaspoon Luxardo maraschino liqueur
½ teaspoon Amer Picon*

Strain into chilled cocktail glass and twist swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top.

*This being essentially unavailable in the U.S., substitute ½ teaspoon Amaro CioCiaro and 1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6.

3. Brooklyn Cocktail (1910)

Shake vigorously with ice:
1½ ounces Tanqueray London dry gin
½ ounces Noilly Prat dry vermouth
½ ounce Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth
1 to 1½ teaspoons raspberry syrup

Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

4. Brooklyn Cocktail (1910)

Combine in a tall glass with ice:
2½ ounces hard cider
1 ounce Vieux Pontarlier absinthe

Fill glass with ginger ale and stir.

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Photo credit: Sharon Radisch

5. Brooklyn Cocktail (1934) — Brad Dewey’s

Shake well with ice:
2 ounces Smith & Cross Jamaican rum (or Plymouth gin)
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice (or white grapefruit juice)
2 teaspoons grenadine or more to taste

Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with maraschino cherry.

6. Brooklyn Cocktail (1944) — The Hotel New Yorker’s

Shake vigorously with ice:
2 ounces Rittenhouse Bonded rye whiskey
Scant ½ ounce Marie Brizard apricot brandy
½ ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with maraschino cherry.

7. Brooklyn Cocktail (1945) — James Lyons’

If there is no Brooklyn cocktail, why not conceive one? Perhaps—

Vinegar as a base.
1 spoonful of raspberries.
½ pony of DDT
¼ branch of a tree
1 ounce of vodka
1 ounce of Durocher bitters.

I do not know how palatable such a Brooklyn cocktail would be, but it would be good enough for the home of ‘Dem Bums.’”

[It might be wise to make a few substitutions and adjust Lyon’s proportions to be more in line with contemporary practice, yielding something like this:

Stir well with ice:
1 spoonful of vinegar-based raspberry shrub*
2 dashes of Fernet-Branca (DDT being banned, this will have to do)
2 dashes aged branch extract (or woody old bourbon)
2 ounces Industry City No. 2 Vodka
2 dashes Bittermen’s Xocolatl Bitters (Durocher Bitters are, alas, unobtainable)

Strain into chilled cocktail glass and top off with a splash of chilled seltzer.

*Recipes for this abound online.]

8. Brooklyn Cocktail (1945) — Lynn Gilmore’s

Combine in Old-Fashioned glass:
½ teaspoon superfine sugar
1 teaspoon seltzer
2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6
Add 2 ounces Famous Grouse blended Scotch whisky
Add 2 large ice cubes, stir, add a green maraschino cherry and twist a swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top.

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Gabrielle Langholtz is the former editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan.