Move over Manhattan! The Bronx isn’t just one of New York City’s most culturally diverse boroughs. It’s also a drink that blends gin with orange juice and two different vermouths. The result is a classic gin cocktail that’s as easy to sip as it is to craft.
The Bronx holds a special place in our hearts. Not only is it the home of the Yankees and some of the best Italian food on the west side of the Atlantic, but it’s also the borough where Mindi’s mom lives.
We’re not alone. Songs have even been written about the northern borough.
It’s only logical that we’d want to try a cocktail named after the NYC borough that we love despite its admittedly sordid reputation. And we’re nothing if not logical.
So what did we think? To be honest, the Bronx cocktail wasn’t what we expected. It’s much more mellow than the rough and ready borough located north of the Harlem River with flavors that are as slow as a drive on the Cross Bronx Expressway.
What Is the Bronx Cocktail?
The Bronx is a classic pre-prohibition cocktail crafted with gin, orange juice, orange bitters and equal parts of sweet and dry vermouth. Some mixologists add lemon juice to the classic recipe (presumably to kick up the drink’s acidity) but that addition is optional.
While the Bronx cocktail isn’t so famous today, it rivaled both the Martini and Manhattan in terms of popularity a century ago – but don’t make assumptions about how the cocktails compare. With an infusion of freshly squeezed orange juice, the Bronx is fruitier and easier to sip compared to those two beverage behemoths.
History of the Bronx Cocktail
The Bronx was probably invented in Manhattan unless it was invented in Philadelphia or maybe even the Bronx. While nobody is exactly certain where it was invented, most cocktail historians attribute the Bronx’s creation to Johnny Solon, a bartender who worked at Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel during the first decade of the 20th century.
Legend has it that Solon chose the name in honor of the relatively new Bronx Zoo. The cocktail later achieved pop culture status with it was referenced in The Thin Man.
Bronx Cocktail Ingredients
You’ll need to raid your home bar to craft a Bronx cocktail considering its diverse ingredient list:
You’ll also need to buy an orange both for its juice and peel.
While any quality dry gin will work in this recipe, we like to use Citadelle dry gin from France. Produced in Cognac, the premium gin features 19 botanicals and has an ABV of 44%.
Discover our favorite gin cocktails.
Unlike sweet vermouth which is typically ruby red and produced in Italy, dry vermouth is white with French roots. Most people have a bottle of the fortified wine at home since it’s a mandatory martini ingredient.
We purchased a bottle of Noilly Prat dry vermouth since it’s from France instead of Italy. As a bonus, this dry vermouth’s recipe has 14 botanicals. It has an ABV of 18%.
Since sweet vermouth is featured in so many cocktails, you probably have a bottle in your cabinet. The bottle in our cabinet happens to be Carpano Classico, so that’s what we used to craft this cocktail. This Italian liquor has a secret recipe, a deep ruby shade and an ABV of 16%.
Angostura orange bitters adds a spicy orange flavor to diverse cocktails including the Bijou, Emerald and Revolver. Made with orange extracts and spices, a little bit goes a long way since these bitters have a 28% ABV.
Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
While you could hypothetically buy orange juice at your local market, using freshly squeezed orange juice is the way to go in the Bronx recipe. Taking the extra step of squeezing the juice results in a cocktail that tastes both sweeter and fresher than Bronx cocktails crafted with commodity orange juice.
How To Craft a Bronx Cocktail
We typically use the following bar tools to craft Bronx cocktails at home:
Don’t worry if you don’t have any or all of these tools. Each is inexpensive and you can improvise in a pinch if you don’t already own them.
Discover 10 necessary bar tools for lazy mixologists.
The first step is to measure the gin, dry vermouth sweet vermouth and orange juice. As you measure them, pour each directly into a shaker. We like to use a Japanese jigger to ensure accurate measurements and make clean pours.
Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you don’t have a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
The next step is to add a dash of orange bitters.
Buy a bottle of orange bitters from Amazon if you don’t already have a bottle.
Add ice to the shaker and shake until the liquids are chilled and combined – approximately 20 seconds. We use a Boston shaker for this step.
Buy a Boston shaker from Amazon if you don’t have a shaker or want an inexpensive upgrade. If you’re like us, it will quickly become your go-to shaker.
Strain the cocktail into a coupe or martini glass.
Garnish with an orange twist.
All that’s left to do is sip and enjoy. We recommend doing both while eating brunch or watching the sun set.
Bronx Cocktail Variations
The Bronx may or may not hit your cocktail sweet spot. Here are some ideas if you want to modify the classic gin cocktail’s recipe:
Bronx Cocktail FAQs
The Bronx is a classic cocktail crafted with dry gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, orange bitters and orange juice. An orange twist completes the Bronx cocktail.
The Bronx cocktail was probably invented in Manhattan.
Dry Gin, Dry Vermouth, Sweet Vermouth, Orange Bitters, Orange Juice, Orange Peel (garnish) and Ice Cubes (for shaking)
The Bronx cocktail is shaken, not stirred.
We like to serve this cocktail in a coupe glass but you could use a small martini glass instead.
Bronx Cocktail Recipe
Follow our Bronx cocktail recipe and craft the classic gin cocktail at home in just a few minutes.
- 2 ounces gin
- 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
- 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1 ounce orange juice
- 1 dash orange bitters
- orange peel (for garnish)
- ice cubes (for shaking)
- Pour gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth and orange juice into a shaker.
- Add a dash of orange bitters.
- Add several ice cubes and shake vigorously until liquids are chilled and mixed.
- Strain into a coupe glass or small martini glass.
- Garnish with an orange twist.
- Add fresh lemon juice if you prefer imbibing tarter cocktails.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: March 3, 2023