The Brooklyn Cocktail is a classic cocktail made of Rye whiskey, dry vermouth, Amer Picon, and Maraschino liqueur. It's another in the series of elegant vintage drinks named after one of NYCs boroughs.
Quick Facts Brooklyn Cocktail
- Method: stirred
- Flavor profile: boozy, dry
- How to serve it: straight up
- Best glassware: coupe glass
- Alcohol content: ~ 26.5% ABV, 27.5 grams of alcohol per serving
The original recipe for the Brooklyn calls for Amer Picon, a bittersweet, Belgian aperitif made of orange and gentian. However, this liqueur is quite hard to get outside Europe. So, if you can't get it, we will show you some options to replace it that still make for a pretty decent Brooklyn cocktail below.
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Mixing glass
- 1 Bar spoon
- 2 oz Rye Whiskey
- 1 oz Dry Vermouth
- ¼ oz Maraschino liqueur
- ¼ oz Amer Picon
- 1 pcs Maraschino cherry - (garnish)
- Add all ingredients except the cherry into a mixing glass with plenty of ice.2 oz Rye Whiskey, 1 oz Dry Vermouth, ¼ oz Maraschino liqueur, ¼ oz Amer Picon
- Stir until the drink is well chilled.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a Maraschino cherry skewered on a cocktail pick.1 pcs Maraschino cherry
Ingredients and Recommendations
You will need Rye whiskey, Amer Picon, dry vermouth, Maraschino liqueur, and Maraschino cherries for a great Brooklyn Cocktail:
- Whiskey: If you don't have any preferred Rye brands and are unsure what to get, we like to use Old Forester Rye, which is excellent value for money.
- Vermouth: A fortified wine infused with various herbs and spices. Our favorite dry Vermouths are Noilly Prat or Dolin Dry.
- Amer Picon: the bittersweet, citrus-infused liqueur is the Belgian version of an Italian Amaro. Check if you can find it online. If you cannot, go with one of our recommended substitutes below.
- Maraschino liqueur: This is a dry, high-ABV liqueur with a taste of almonds mingling with a subtle note of cherries. Our preferred choice for Maraschino liqueur is Luxardo, but the products from Lazzaroni and Maraska are fine too.
- Garnish: Further, use real Maraschino cherries to garnish your drink. -Or Amarena cherries, if you can't get the original or want to save a few bucks. Alternatively, make some at home, but stay away from the candied, bright-red copycats. Want to know why? Read this post about the difference between Maraschino cherries and cocktail cherries.
Expert Tips for Mixing the Brooklyn Cocktail
Besides the right ingredients, you should stick to these tips and best practices for making the Brooklyn:
First, chill all ingredients and the glass before mixing your drink. It comes without ice, and you want the drink to remain cold for as long as possible.
Second, for the same reason, stick to a cocktail glass with a stem. That way you don't warm up the contents with your hands while holding the glass.
Third, stir for at least 20 to 25 seconds with plenty of ice cubes to get the ideal dilution from the melting ice. The Brooklyn is a boozy drink and needs a bit of water.
How to Substitute Amer Picon
If you don't want to invest in such a specific and rarely used liqueur, here's the most practical approach: You can replace the Amer Picon part with two dashes of Angostura bitters. That seems far off the original recipe. But, in this case, it creates a surprisingly similar drink.
Amer Picon is a bittersweet, orange-flavored Belgian liqueur. Due to its limited availability, bartenders came up with various ideas to replace it without changing the overall identity and character of the cocktail.
The taste of Amer Picon is herbal and citrusy with intensive orange notes. Therefore, substituting it with a similarly citrusy Amaro is recommendable:
Amaro Tosolini, Amaro Ciociaro, or Bigallet China-China Amer are all great options - but neither is part of the basic equipment of a home bar nor particularly easy to get.
Another popular take is replacing Maraschino and Amer Picon with one single ingredient. Amaro Ciociaro works beautifully and makes for a cocktail quite close to the original version - but then again, it's equally hard to get.
History of the Brooklyn Cocktail
The first time the Brooklyn cocktail appeared in writing was in 1908 in Jack's Manual by J. A. Grohusko. 7 Years later, in 1914, author Jacques Straub re-published the drink in his cocktail book Drinks.
Interestingly, Straub's recipe was different from the one published in 1908. A misprint turned sweet vermouth into dry vermouth (Italian into French). With most bartenders creating the cocktail out of his book, that dry version became the standard recipe for a Brooklyn cocktail.
However, since Amer Picon was even more difficult to get back then than it is today, the drink eventually vanished from bar menus. Only increasing globalization and growing interest in craft cocktails brought it back in some places.
So, should you intend to mix a Brooklyn Cocktail as Straub envisioned it, replace the dry with sweet vermouth in our recipe - the ratios remain the same.
Other Cocktails Named After NYC Boroughs
No doubt, the Brooklyn Cocktail is inspired by the Manhattan cocktail. And obviously, New York City has more boroughs worthy of lending their name to some fine drinks:
For instance, the Bronx Cocktail is an easy-to-make three-ingredient cocktail mixed with Gin, Vermouth, and freshly squeezed orange juice.
The IBA used to list it for quite a long time, and it was very famous in the 1930s. A ranking from 1934 even rewarded it as the 3rd most popular cocktail worldwide.
The Queens Cocktail is also a three-ingredient cocktail based on Gin and Vermouth. But instead of orange juice, its creator, Harry Craddock, decided to use fresh pineapple juice instead.
Furthermore, Staten Island has its own recipe, at least if you want to call it a recipe. The simple formula asks for an equal amount of Malibu Rum and pineapple juice - a sweet and unbalanced mix and my least favorite one amongst all NYC-inspired cocktails.