Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking


Kirkwood Detail

Here’s another cocktail in a long line of modern Manhattan variants. Well, technically, they are modeled after a classic called the Brooklyn cocktail which is itself based on the Manhattan. We’ve seen many of these wonderful Brooklyn concoctions such as the Red Hook, the Greenpoint, and the Bensonhurst, to name a few. In fact, we could probably go on for weeks writing about drinks named after neighborhoods all over Brooklyn, but today, we are finally featuring the Kirkwood which appeared in the November 2010 issue of Imbibe Magazine.

Named after an Atlanta, Georgia neighborhood (most of Brooklyn is spoken for), it is Leon’s Full Service bartender Miles Macquarrie’s contribution to this family of drinks. Not to be mistaken for the Edgewood, another cocktail named after an Atlanta neighborhood, the Kirkwood is an intensely spiritous drink, and while both have flavors of bitter vermouth and grapefruit, this drink contains no fresh juice making it the easier drink to make.

Kirkwood by Miles Macquarrie, Leon’s Full Service, Atlanta, GA
1.5 oz rye whiskey
.5 oz Punt e Mes
.5 oz Cynar
.5 oz St-Germain
2 dashes grapefruit bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a grapefruit twist.


If we are ever forced to pick a go-to cocktail, or rather, a category of cocktails, the Brooklyn variants are our choice. They are spirit-driven, typically whiskey based, easy to make due to the avoidance of fresh juice, and often feature interesting modifiers that include small splashes of delicious liqueurs and potable bitters. The Kirkwood is no exception. It contains ingredients that we adore! To start, it’s a rye whiskey cocktail. Nothing unusual here, just a solid, flavorful rye base that is necessary to stand up to the bold flavors that follow.

Next, we have Punt e Mes, an Italian vermouth that is fantastically complex with a bitter edge. It brings an herbal dark chocolate-like backbone to any drink that calls for it. If that weren’t enough, we also have Cynar, the bitter herbal artichoke amaro (this recipe just keeps getting better). We are easily hooked by Italian bitter ingredients, so already, this recipe is hard to ignore.

Next comes a bit of sweetness in the form of St-Germain. It’s so daring and wonderful, if not just a bit over-the-top at this point. So, what is St-Germain, an elderflower liqueur, doing with all of this deep, dark whiskey and bitter herbal stuff? It’s working some magic with the grapefruit, of course! And now it all makes sense. Grapefruit is actually the dominant flavor in this drink. We can’t tell what does more, the two dashes of bitters or the grapefruit peel garnish, but they meld wonderfully with the elderflower, and after the sip, along comes the Cynar with it’s herbal bitterness. Or, maybe it’s the Punt e Mes. We do expect some bitterness because it’s grapefruit, after all, yet this is rich and deeply herbal, not light and sour. It’s perfect.

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James R. Coplin
James R. Coplin
10 years ago

What an unexpectedly lovely drink this is! The vermouth and bitters gives lots of room to play too. Anything with Cynar is a welcome addition to the playlist.

Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson
Reply to  James R. Coplin
10 years ago

I couldn’t agree more!