1. Food
Colleen Graham

The Story of the Bronx Cocktail

By March 30, 2008

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The Departini Cocktail
The Departini © Tequila Tezon
The Bronx, essentially a Perfect Martini with a healthy supply of orange juice. It's a spectacular drink that was a hit before Prohibition. Created by Johnnie Solon at the Old Waldorf Astoria around the turn of the 20th century, the Bronx is the product of a bar challenge. The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book (A.S. Crockett, 1935) has the full story right out of Solon's mouth...

According to Solon the Duplex was one of the popular drinks at the bar, and one day while making one a waiter came back from a table with a message: "Why don't you get up a new cocktail? I have a customer who says you can't do it." Inspired by the Duplex, Solon says, "...a thought came to me. I poured into a mixing glass the equivalent of two jiggers of Gordon's Gin. Then I filled the jigger with orange juice...Then into the mixture I put a dash each of Italian and French Vermouth, shaking the thing up."

Back in the day of the Bronx orange juice cocktails were a hit and, as Crockett points out, many were not distinguishable from one another, especially by the home bartender during the late "Doubtful Drink Era." You may have been served a "Bronx" but it could have been, in reality, an Adirondack, Orange Blossom (No. 1 or 2), or an Eddy. But one thing was for sure: "As a rule, the Orange Juice, at least, was the "real stuff." Fresh OJ was essential during the era, so much that after the Bronx rose to it's pre-Prohibition fame, the Waldorf was using a case of oranges a day.


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