Friday, January 17, 2014

Cocktail of the Week: The Bensonhurst

What better way to follow up the Brooklyn than with one of the many innovative tributes to that occasionally elusive classic? Particularly one that makes use of that bottle of Cynar I cracked open a few weeks back.

Chad Solomon, formerly of New York’s Milk & Honey and the Pegu Club and one of the founders of the catering and consulting firm Cuffs & Buttons, crafted this concoction in 2006. By then twists on the Brooklyn had already become a cottage industry. Unlike most of its Kings County brethren, the Bensonhurst honors its progenitor by keeping the dry vermouth. In place of Amer Picon Solomon opted for the artichoke liqueur Cynar to acknowledge the long Italian-American history of the namesake neighborhood.

In his quest to create what he dubbed “a tough-guy drink,” Solomon also devised a true connoisseur’s cocktail. The Bensonhurst is rye forward, but the other flavors remain very much in evidence. You’ll find more maraschino in a Red Hook – Solomon called for a very precise two tablespoons in his original recipe – but its presence is a constant. The vermouth smoothes the edges and permits Cynar’s herbaceous quality to sneak in for a bow. One variation suggests merely rinsing the glass with the liqueur, but I prefer to have Cynar’s bitter complexity in every sip down to the last. The traditional version doesn’t have a garnish. I tossed in a cherry because I had one and nobody got hurt.

The Bensonhurst

Chad Solomon, New York City

2 oz. rye
1 oz. dry vermouth
1/3 oz. maraschino
1/4 oz. Cynar

Stir. Strain. Garnish with a cherry if you feel like it.

Want more Cocktail of the Week? The first fifty-two essays are available in the Kindle bestseller DOWN THE HATCH: ONE MAN’S ONE YEAR ODYSSEY THROUGH CLASSIC COCKTAIL RECIPES AND LORE. Buy it now at