Described by its creator, Sam Ross as a summertime Manhattan, it is also one of the Brooklyn variants that always seem to top our lists of favorite cocktails. Drinks like the Red Hook and the Greenpoint are some of the best “can’t go wrong” modern recipes we know. We have reviewed a handful of Brooklyn variants over the years, and every example is sure to please anyone who tends toward bold, spirit-driven recipes that taste like century-old classics. The Cobble Hill is no exception, even if it is somewhat unconventional by comparison to others in this category.
The basic idea of the Brooklyn formula is to take a Manhattan and swap out the sweet vermouth and bitters for something more interesting. Most examples rely on a liqueur and an Italian amaro. The Cobble Hill is unique because it also calls for muddled cucumber—an unusual choice that definitely brings a fresh nuance to a rye whiskey sipper. Opting for dry vermouth instead of sweet further lightens the mood, but a return to depth and character comes from Amaro Montenegro, helping to unite these lighter elements with straight rye.
Cobble Hill by Sam Ross
3 slices cucumber
2 fl oz rye whiskey (100 proof / 50% alc./vol.)
1/2 fl oz Noilly Prat Extra Dry
1/2 fl oz Montenegro amaro
Muddle the cucumber in in a mixing glass. Add the other ingredients and stir with ice to chill, then double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon (discarded) and a slice of cucumber.
Created in 2009 at Milk & Honey, New York City, Sam Ross’s Cobble Hill is worth the effort whether you are reading this in the summer or during the colder, darker time of the year. Sometimes, a lighter, floral drink is just what you want instead of diving into citrus or something bubbly. It is hard to appreciate the cucumber in this until you try it. You might think muddling three slices is a bit much, but with a strong whiskey, this is just enough to add a subtle amount of flavor without overpowering. It comes out more in the finish, but in the best way possible—the cucumber does not feel contrived but rather perfectly balanced with everything else. Don’t skip the lemon twist garnish. Even though it is discarded, a hefty twist showers lemon oils on the surface, scenting every sip, and a rub around the rim ensures some level of flavor enhancement as the drink passes your lips. Details matter, and in this case, the lemon matters a lot.
Give the Cobble Hill a try and let us know what you think. Then, check out some of the other Brooklyn cocktails as you build your collection of liqueurs and Italian bitters.