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Drink of the Week: Bensonhurst

Some of you may recognize the name of this cocktail as another Brooklyn neighborhood. That's because it's one of the variations of the Brooklyn cocktail, one of several modern recipes following the tradition of the Red Hook. We have already covered that and the Greenpoint and there are still many more to enjoy. All of them are essentially Manhattan variations using rye as the base, but they each have their own twist, swapping one liqueur for another or exploring something creative with the vermouth.

This one takes the somewhat unusual approach of using dry vermouth instead of sweet. It was created by Chad Solomon, once a bartender at New York's Milk & Honey. The result is a lovely golden gem of a cocktail that remains true to the style.

So, here's the thing with this drink. It's strong. It has an imposing flavor that is definitely rye-forward. We love rye, so that's not really a problem. Besides, we used the good stuff which resulted in a wonderfully smooth version of this drink. Regardless of your selection, a recipe like this insists on being properly diluted. The stirring action may work best with a combination of cracked ice and cubes. This will get you to the finish line faster so that once properly chilled, you will also have adequate dilution to cut some of the heat from your whiskey.

This cocktail also includes two more of our favorite ingredients: maraschino liqueur and Cynar. Think of the combination of dry vermouth, Luxardo maraschino and Cynar as a substitute for sweet vermouth in a Manhattan and you will understand why these Brooklyn variations work so well. In the Bensonhurst, the liqueur imparts a sweet funkiness typical of drinks that include maraschino, and the Cynar adds just the right amount of herbal complexity combined with the vermouth and a touch of bitterness that will have you enjoying and contemplating every last sip. That said, the rye does play the dominant role, but that's not really a complaint.

Bensonhurst
2 oz rye
1 oz dry vermouth
.25 oz maraschino liqueur
1 barspoon Cynar

Combine in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

 

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