Rye Whiskey - 1 1/2 oz
Dry Vermouth - 3/4 oz
Amer Picon - 1 dash
Maraschino - 1 dash
Stir everything with ice cubes and strain into a chill cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
It’s time to take a quick break from the tiki drinks, and visit a classic. Unfortunately this true classic had faded somewhat into obscurity, a possible explanation is the decline of Amer Picon, even it’s American substitute Torani Amer is hard to find. Maraschino is much more obtainable, a good Luxardo Maraschino may not be available everywhere, but finding substitute for Luxardo is easier than Amer Picon. It’s hard to locate the origin of the Brooklyn, it’s certainly not found in the Jerry Thomas and Harry Johnson era, but it is found in most 20th century cocktail books from “The Savoy Cocktail Book” by Harry Craddock to “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” by David A. Embury.
There are two main forms of this drink: one uses bourbon or rye; the other uses Canadian whisky, specifically Canadian Club. To me, rye was the whiskey of choice in America before bourbon took over, so it is most likely the original base for this cocktail; plus during prohibition, both bourbon and rye stopped being produced, hence a lot of the bartenders who escaped to Europe started using Canadian Club instead; Canadian whiskies do contain a small amount of rye, which is why it was commonly referred to as “rye whiskey”, although it’s quite different from the true American rye.
I’m using Jim Beam Rye for this instance, a pretty good, yet affordable choice. The Brooklyn is essentially a Dry Manhattan made with Amer Picon as the bitters, and Maraschino liqueur as the extra flavouring and sweetener. The drink is initially smooth on the tongue, yet definitely dry at the back, with a touch of spiciness from the rye. It has a very nice and long finish, with the whiskey flavours coming back, I get some of the nuttiness from the rye.
The amount of Maraschino and Amer Picon was never clearly defined, most recipes would call for a dash of each, but occasionally a recipe would say “2 teaspoons (1/3 oz) of each” or “1/4 oz of each”. As the 2 liqueurs are both very rich and overpowering, I felt that a small dash of each can allow the whiskey to stand out more, especially that I’m serving this drink in a small cocktail glass (like how cocktails was served, before huge cocktail glasses kicked in) with a totally volume of no more than 4 oz, dashes should suffice.
The traditional garnish for this drink is a maraschino cherry, which I suspect the “maraschino cherry” bartenders used back in the day was probably not the same as the bright red cherries we have these days: back then marasca cherries was macerated in true maraschino liqueur, whereas today, cheap cherries was bleached and coloured, then steeped in almond-flavoured syrup. After carefully making a drink with quality product, I don’t want to ruin it with a red cherry. Often a piece of lemon twist is recommended, which suits a dry drink very well indeed, but I would still like to go with a traditional Manhattan-style garnish, which is a brandied cherry.