The Story Behind The Bronx
Even though he’s a West Coast-er, we like to think Snoop Dogg would approve of the Bronx, which is essentially an elevated Gin and Juice. For those more versed in cocktail culture, the Bronx may also stand out as a riff on more popular and well-known cousins, the Manhattan and the Martini.
A shaken mix of gin, two types of vermouth, and orange juice (with some bitters thrown in for good measure), the Bronx enjoyed massive popularity in the early 1900s. Like with many pre-Prohibition cocktails from the time, the drink’s inventor is up for debate, but the generally accepted story is it was first concocted at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, then tended by John J. Solan, Philip M. Kennedy, and head bartender John “Curly” O’Connor.
According to “The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails,” in 1901, O’Connor took part in a “summit of the city’s top mixologists, brought together to come up with a ‘Carrie Nation Cocktail.’” Carrie Nation was a major figure in the temperance movement leading up to Prohibition. By many accounts, she was a stern, six-foot-tall, brolic woman from Kansas, and famous for storming into bars and saloons, wielding a hatchet, and hacking away at walls, glasses, and barstools. So as a playful jab at Ms. Nation, the group of mixologists thought to include fruit juice in their new drink, which wasn’t common for cocktails at the time, and led to the creation of the Bronx.
Just like other simple-build drinks, this is a cocktail where the components have nowhere to hide, so high-quality ingredients are going to make or break the final product. Opt for top-shelf gin and freshly squeezed orange juice. When done right, it is, as David Wondrich describes in “The Oxford Companion,” “essentially a perfect Martini with added orange juice or other orange flavor.”
While similar in profile to its neighboring borough’s namesake cocktail, the Bronx has less of a kick than a Manhattan (or indeed a Martini). The dryness of the vermouth and the gin are balanced by sweet vermouth and orange juice, and further enhanced by spicy orange bitters. The juice element also gives the Bronx a light body, leading to easy-drinking, sessionable, almost floral sips.