We’ve all heard of the Manhattan.
We’ve all drank plenty in our time too I’m sure. But what about its less well-known cousin: the Brooklyn?
Just like the famous New York boroughs, the Brooklyn and Manhattan cocktails are very close to each other, but each has its own unique flavor and character to set it firmly apart.
What Is the Brooklyn Cocktail (And Is It the Same As a Manhattan?)
The short answer to ‘Is a Brooklyn the same as a Manhattan?’ is no. But it is similar.
The Brooklyn has been around since the pre-prohibition era, inspired as a twist on the already popular Manhattan and Bronx cocktails.
There are a few different riffs and takes on what makes the perfect Brooklyn but the fundamentals of whiskey, vermouth, angostura bitters, and the key ingredient: maraschino liqueur are going to be ever-present.
How To Make a Manhattan: A Rock-Solid Brooklyn Cocktail Recipe
A Manhattan or Brooklyn has quite a simple recipe when it comes down to it.
But it’s still a stone-cold killer classic of a cocktail.
The biggest effect you’re going to have is what whiskey you opt for.
The recipe I’m going to use today is a bourbon-based one. I’d recommend Elijah Craig Small Batch as a brilliant start.
For maraschino liqueur, there’s no better industry-standard than Luxardo.
Step One: Chill your coupe glass with ice.
This step is absolutely vital to enjoying your drink ice cold.
Always start by chilling your glass. You’ll thank me later when your drink hits just the right spot.
Step Two: Add your alcohol to your mixing glass.
Start with 1 ½ ounces of your bourbon, 1 ½ ounce of sweet vermouth, ½ ounce of maraschino liqueur, and a few dashes of angostura bitters or Cointreau.
The original recipe calls for Amer Picon instead of the bitters, but as that can be hard to come by outside of Europe, the bitters or Cointreau will work precisely as you want.
Once all your liquids are in, top with ice.
Step Three: Stir, strain and enjoy.
We’re not James Bond, this isn’t a vesper, just a gentle stir will chill and dilute your Brooklyn to perfection.
30 seconds with a bar spoon, until your mixing glass is chilled to the touch.
Strain into your chilled coupe glass, garnish with a maraschino cherry, and drink up.
Twists on the Brooklyn Cocktail
As the Brooklyn came about as a spinoff of a Manhattan, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with mixing it up and coming up with your own take.
Switching up your whiskey is the easiest way to bring out new flavors in your Brooklyn.
I’ve used a bourbon-based recipe above, and you can get a bunch of different flavours and palates just by switching up your bourbon, but changing to a rye whiskey is going to give your Brooklyn a totally different spin.
The sweeter flavors of the bourbon compliment the maraschino liqueur and vermouth whereas the punchier, spicier notes of the rye contrast it, giving your Brooklyn cocktail a much more powerful taste.
If you really want to go off-piste, ditch the American whiskey altogether and go for a beautiful single malt scotch.
Something from the Island whisky region will give you those salty sea air notes, and remind you of New York’s history and position in the world as a major port city, built from the ground up by people arriving on the boats.
Another great way to put a twist on your Brooklyn is to use dry vermouth instead of the regular, sweet stuff.
Sweet, smooth cocktails simply aren’t for everyone and if you want that classy, Italian-American combination but with more of a punch, switching up the vermouth for a drier variety is a fantastic way to make your Brooklyn a proper heavyweight and put a totally new spin on the normally sweet Manhattan cocktail.
Lastly, if you’re not a huge fan of cherry flavors, ditch the maraschino liqueur altogether! Don’t worry though, I’m not saying to leave it as a plain Manhattan.
Try replacing the maraschino liqueur with the same amount of Cointreau, an orange-flavored ingredient, and garnishing with an orange peel instead.
The citrussy twang will balance out the sweetness of the bourbon and vermouth and give your drink a more exotic, southern palate.
Now you’re all clued up on the Brooklyn, get making one yourself. Play around with different whiskeys and twists on the drink and get it just how you like it. Bottoms up!
I started bartending in 2017, just 4 days after my 18th birthday, at a cocktail bar in my hometown. I immediately fell in love with the art and science of mixology and have since worked in bars across Yarm, York and Liverpool in England.