While it would be unfair to say that the Bronx is a Martini for those not yet ready to face reality, dumbed down as it is with a splash of orange, it’s quite the opposite! Equally, it's not a million miles away from being a fresher and certainly more easily imbibed version of its stately neighbour, The Manhattan. The Bronx is a lively drink too, ready and waiting to wake your mind and your mouth up ahead of a big night.
What gin works well in a Bronx cocktail?
Half Hitch Gin is a good option with the booming bergamot and black tea aroma, while Bombay Amber and its alluring musky use of Ambrette seeds also plays well with the orange juice.
As it is a fairly dry, complex cocktail, picking a generously bodied sweet vermouth can really change it from fresh and light into something far more enveloping and moreish. Pick as you prefer.
Some prefer to add a couple dashes of Orange Bitters, while we've seen many home cocktail enthusiasts go 50/50 with lemon and orange juice to give it a little extra zestiness.
An abridged, inebriated history:
Pre-prohibition era America was a blessing and a curse in terms of cocktail invention. Vast amounts were created, and many were terrible sure, but anyone wishing to know about the history of their favourite drinks tend to have a lot of versions of history to wade through.
The Bronx is one of many cocktails swept up in the mystery of this time, with many barkeeps claiming the title of creator, or at least creator of the drink’s fame. Bronx restaurateur Joseph Sormani is amongst those receiving credit – he was supposed to have tried the drink in Philadelphia in 1905 and brought it back to the Bronx.
Meanwhile, Albert Stevens Crockett, in his capacity as historian of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, credits hotel bartender Johnnie Solan with the drink. This is perhaps a more fun version of history: Johnnie was challenged by the Waldorf’s head waiter to create a new cocktail. With a couple of jiggers of Gordon’s to hand, he whipped up a Bronx, which quickly became popular, causing the hotel bar to get through a crate of oranges each day.
The name, according to Solan (or rather, according to Crockett’s account of Solan’s words) was inspired by a visit to the Bronx Zoo. “Customer used to tell me of the strange animals they saw after a lot of mixed drinks,” explained Solan. “So when Traverson said to me, as he started to take the drink in to the customer, ‘What’ll I tell him is the name of this drink?’ I thought of those animals, and said: ‘Oh, you can tell him it is a Bronx’.”