Everyone Knows The Manhattan, But What About Its Outer Borough Cocktail Cousins?

By Gustav Vincoeur |

Even the most casual drinker is likely familiar with one of the most famous classic cocktails of them all: the Manhattan. But even savvy cocktail aficionados may not be aware that related cocktails, named after other New York City boroughs, were at times nearly as popular as the Manhattan itself. Read on to discover an overlooked slice of American cocktail history, and how the outer boroughs distinguish themselves. As in real life, you’ll notice some similarities between most of the boroughs’ namesake cocktails . . . until we reach the Staten Island, which, er, distinguishes itself through its iconoclastic recipe.

The Manhattan

Photo courtesy of Melanie Estopinal

There are many romantic stories about the origins of the Manhattan, one even involving Winston Churchill’s mother (who was born in Brooklyn). However, truth be told, no one is quite sure where the drink came from, or if it even came from Manhattan.

What is known is that the Manhattan was codified in the 1880’s and by the turn of the century, it was one of the most popular libations in America. The drink’s popularity waxed and waned over generations, but it has always remained an essential part of the cocktail canon. The American Whiskey resurgence of the 21st century has only increased the popularity of the Manhattan, but its lesser known classic cocktail cousins named for other boroughs warrant a closer examination and greater respect. Behold:

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Manhattan
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  1. Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass
  2. Garnish with a cherry or lemon twist

The Queens

Photo by Melanie Estopinal

The Queens is believed to have first appeared in Harry Craddock’s seminal 1930 publication the Savoy Cocktail Book. While the specs are clearly a riff on the Brooklyn, Craddock lists the drink as the “Queen’s” with an apostrophe, as in Her Royal Majesty. However, the drink was quickly embraced by New Yorkers as their own–like pizza.

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Queens
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Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake.
  3. Double strain into a martini glass.

The Bronx

Photo by Melanie Estopinal

In 1934, the Bronx No. 1 was rated the third most popular cocktail, behind only the Martini and the Manhattan, but by that time the drink had been around for decades. The first known written mention is in William “Cocktail” Boothby’s 1908 classic The World’s Drinks And How To Mix Them. Some sources attribute the cocktail’s popularization to Bronx restauranteur Joseph S. Sorman, and others credit it to the recipe entirely to a Waldorf-Astoria bartender, Johnnie Solan. Regardless of the creator, the drink is a worthy classic cocktail compatriot.

Also of note, Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill W. wrote that the Bronx was the first cocktail he ever tasted. So, keep them in moderation.

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Bronx No. 1 (Optimized)
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Instructions
  1. Combine ingredients with ice in a mixing glass and stir.
  2. Strain into a coupe.
  3. Garnish with orange twist.

The Brooklyn

Photo courtesy Jane Donut

First published Jacob A. Grohusko’s 1908 cocktail book Jack’s Manual, the Brooklyn is an oft overlooked sister of the Manhattan. Typical recipes add Maraschino (think of it as a Hemingway Manhattan), and Amer Picon. The bitters are often removed or toyed with to provide the more complex flavor that separates the Brooklyn from her simpler sister.

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Brooklyn
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Instructions
  1. Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass
  2. Garnish with an orange twist-optional.

The Staten Island Ferry

Photo by Flickr user Whitney

Here is a tiki drink, imagined in a truly Staten Island style–simple, blunt, and . . . effective? While lacking the classic structure of its cousins, it makes up for it in its lack of pretension.

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Staten Island Ferry
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Instructions
  1. Combine rum and pineapple juice in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir.
  3. Strain into a collins glass and add ice.
  4. Tiki it up with a colorful garnish.

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