New York has invented very few of the top-tier classics. The Old-Fashioned is arguable. California claims the Martini’s origins. The Sazerac? That’s New Orleans. And Cuba’s all over the Daiquiri. But no matter, because New York is home to the Manhattan, the godfather of strong and stirred cocktails.
From this template, the city has given birth to a number of other drinks—many of them also named for the neighborhoods or boroughs that have inspired them.
Some are classics, like the Brooklyn, an antiquated riff on the Manhattan including Amer Picon (an orange-, gentian- and cinchona-flavored aperitif that can be substituted with a lighter amaro) and maraschino liqueur instead of sweet vermouth.
Others are modern drinks that pay homage to the classic heavyweights. Of the countless variations on the Manhattan and the Brooklyn, Enzo Errico’s Red Hook (a mix of the slightly bitter French vermouth, Punt e Mes, rye and maraschino liqueur), is one of the most beloved and enduring. Right on its heels is Joaquín Simó’s Carroll Gardens, a riff on Errico’s riff, which cuts the Punt e Mes in half and adds Nardini Amaro in a nod to CG’s Italian immigrant roots.
And still other drinks fall well outside the Manhattan’s sphere of influence. The pre-Prohibition-era Bronx, for example, is loose mashup of an orange-infused Gin Sour and a Perfect Martini; it’s one of the most enduring oddball New York-based classics, a drink that feels adamantly rooted in a different era. But what makes a classic great is its ability to be riffed upon without ceding its imprint.
Sort of like New York’s own constant reinvention.