Brooklyn isn’t just the most populated borough in New York City. It’s also a pre-prohibition cocktail that sips like a dream. When you follow our easy Brooklyn cocktail recipe, you’ll forget about the other four boroughs before you get to the bottom of the glass.
Brooklyn is no longer under the shadow of Manhattan. Rents have soared on the other side of the East River and for good reason. NYC’s most populated borough is rich with history, culture and cuisine. Plus, New York City’s biggest borough is home to some of the city’s best bagel shops, bakeries and pizzerias.
Alas, the same can’t be said about the Brooklyn cocktail. While bartenders around the world serve more than a few Manhattans to thirsty drinkers, many mixologists don’t bother with the Brooklyn. The potent potable named after the ‘other’ borough just isn’t that popular.
Since we’ve seen more than a few Brooklyn wannabes in cities as diverse as Bucharest, Helsinki and Lisbon during our travels, we won’t be surprised when and if this status changes. Maybe Brooklyn (the cocktail) needs a better PR rep.
Brooklyn and Manhattan aren’t the only NYC boroughs with signature cocktails. The Bronx and Queens have them too. Sorry Staten Island!
What Is A Brooklyn Cocktail?
The Brooklyn is a pre-prohibition cocktail crafted with rye whiskey, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur and amaro. It’s also a strong cocktail with not even one mixer in its ingredient list.
Yes, this tasty tipple will knock your socks off if you drink too many. Luckily, it’s the kind of drink best enjoyed slowly – one sip at a time.
Discover more of our favorite Pre-Prohibition cocktails.
History Of The Brooklyn Cocktail
Despite its relative anonymity, The Brooklyn cocktail is no neophyte.
While history is fuzzy as to its exact origin, The Brooklyn cocktail dates back to at least 1908. That’s the year that Jacob Grohusko, a Manhattan bartender, made the drink famous by including the cocktail’s recipe in his original Jack’s Manual.
The Brooklyn’s fame was solidified when Harry Craddock included the same recipe in the iconic book, The Savoy Cocktail, 22 years later. However, the Brooklyn fell out of favor for awhile.
Recently, however, we’ve noticed the Brooklyn popping up on bar menus both in New York City and beyond. Perhaps the centenarian cocktail’s history is yet to fully unfold.
We’ll be impressed if you have all of the following Brooklyn ingredients on hand:
You should be able to any missing ingredients at your local liquor store or online. The only challenge may be finding the best the right amaro – more about that later.
Rye distilled in the USA is similar to American bourbon with one key exception – it must be distilled with at least 51% rye.
Bulliet is clearly an over-achiever since its rye whiskey is made with 95% rye and 5% malted barley. Produced in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, it has a 45% ABV. Simultaneously spicy and fruity, the award-winning rye tastes great both on the rocks and in cocktails like the Brooklyn.
Unlike sweet vermouth, which is typically ruby red and produced in Italy, dry vermouth is white and has French roots. Most people have a bottle of the fortified wine at home since it’s a mandatory martini ingredient. It’s also a great substitute for white wine when cooking.
We keep a bottle of Noilly Prat dry vermouth in our liquor cabinet. We like that its recipe has 14 botanicals. It has an ABV of 18%.
Discover our favorite dry vermouth cocktails.
Finding the right amaro will be your biggest challenge.
The classic cocktails’s original recipe called for Amer Picon, a bitter French amer with orange undertones. Since that liqueur is difficult to find in America, most bartenders replace Amer Picon with an Italian amaro. We did the same when we added Ramazzotti to our Brooklyn recipe.
Pernod Ricard produces Ramazzotti in Milan with 33 aromatic botanicals and a 30% ABV. We were attracted to this particular amaro because of the Calabrian oranges in its ingredient list.
Add a couple dashes on Angostura bitters if you don’t have a bottle of amer or amaro on hand.
Luxardo produces our preferred maraschino liqueur. No surprise there since we’re obsessed with the Italian company’s maraschino cherries.
We initially bought a bottle of Luxardo maraschino liqueur, which has a 32% ABV, to craft Hemingway Daiquiris and have since used it to craft cocktails like the Aviation, Martinez and Last Word. We can now add the Brooklyn to this esteemed cocktail list.
Discover our favorite maraschino liqueur cocktails.
How To Craft A Brooklyn Cocktail
The first step in our Brooklyn recipe is to measure the four liquors. We use a Japanese jigger in this and other cocktail recipes to ensure accurate measurements and clean pours.
Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you need a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Pour the liquors directly into a mixing glass after you measure each.
Add a handful of ice and stir until the ingredients are combined and chilled. This step should take 20 to 30 seconds.
Strain the cocktail into a coupe glass.
While you could technically use a different type of glass, a coupe glass works best in this recipe.
Garnish with a maraschino cherry or two.
You’ll want to start sipping right away while the cocktail is still chilled by the ice. However, don’t rush to the bottom of the glass. In our opinion, the cocktail improves as it warms to room temperature.
While you have to travel to New York to decide if Brooklyn is your favorite borough, you can make your decision about the Brooklyn cocktail at home. If you’re not enamored with its taste, craft one of the following classic cocktails instead:
Discover 10 essential bar tools for the home mixologist.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Brooklyn cocktail is pre-prohibition cocktail crafted with rye whiskey, dry vermouth, amaro and maraschino liqueur.
Rye Whiskey, Dry Vermouth, Amaro, Maraschino Liqueur, Ice (for stirring) and Maraschino Cherries (garnish)
We recommend using your favorite rye whiskey when you craft a Brooklyn cocktail at home.
The Brooklyn cocktail is stirred, not shaken.
We like to use coupe glasses when we craft Brooklyn cocktails and you should do the same.
Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.
- 2 ounces rye whiskey
- 1 ounce dry vermouth
- ¼ ounce maraschino liqueur
- ¼ ounce amaro
- 1 or 2 maraschino cherry (garnish)
- ice cubes (for shaking)
- Pour liquids into a mixing glass.
- Add several ice cubes and stir until liquids are mixed and chilled.
- Strain into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with a maraschino cherry or two.
- You can replace the amaro with a few drops of Angostura bitters.
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. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: April 28, 2022