A recent classic created by Chad Solomon, the Bensonhurst is a killer cocktail that has made it onto my shortlist. I asked Chad to share his inspiration for this tribute to the Brooklyn cocktail.
“I was inspired to create the Bensonhurst as an alternative to the Brooklyn, particularly because of the distinct lack of original formula Amer Picon. (This is still one of the few items I’m looking for. If anyone has a bottle they’d be willing to part with, please let me know! – ed.)
To give you some context, I was working at both Milk & Honey, and Pegu Club, it was Jan/Feb 2006, and we were being egged on for new stirred and strong/bitter & boozy aromatic style drinks from our Pegu front line regulars-Dave Wondrich, Sam Kinsey, Martin Doudoroff, Don Lee, and John Deragon. The cocktail made it on the Pegu Spring 2006 cocktail menu.
It should also be noted that Milk & Honey London bartender, Vincenzo Errico, had already created the Redhook by this point as the first of the Brooklyn variations, which set the precedent of choosing another Brooklyn neighborhood to name the variations it spawned. With the full-metal bold & dry nature of the cocktail, the inclusion of Cynar, along with the Italian tough guy history of the neighborhood, Bensonhurst was the winner.
Around this same time, Pegu was the first account in New York to get Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond Rye Whiskey, and we were going apeshit over it…there never was another candidate to anchor the cocktail. For dry vermouth, Noilly Prat was the original selection and also pre-Dolin, which I switched to as soon as it was available and Noilly Prat altered their dry vermouth formula. Luxardo has always been in there and Cynar contributed the most distinctly to the drink. No Bitters, No garnish…doesn’t need it.
A note on execution- The measurements of the modifiers is the real trick with this one-
2 oz (60ml) Rittenhouse Rye BIB
1 oz (30ml) Dolin Dry Vermouth
2 tsp (10ml) Luxardo Maraschino
1 tsp (5ml) Cynar
Glass: Nick & Nora
Substituting bar spoons for teaspoons doesn’t work, we used the Kitchen Art Adjustable Tablespoon at Pegu. The shortcut that I devised to execute the drink in a faster manner without sacrificing quality, was to pre-batch 2 parts Luxardo to 1 part Cynar, and then measure a 1/2 oz of that batch instead of getting into the teaspoons.”
Here is the recipe as printed in the Mr. Boston Guide. Note that the methodology and ratios are different. This version allows the rye to shine through with less of the musky cherry notes.
1 splash Cynar
2oz straight rye whiskey
1oz dry vermouth
0.25oz maraschino liqueur
Swirl Cynar in chilled cocktail glass to coat inside; discard excess. Stir remaining ingredients with ice and strain into glass.