Income Tax, Mecca, and the Bronx

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What is a way to celebrate finish turning in those dreaded, yet “inevitable” papers which plague citizens of the state?  A similarly named cocktail.


The Income Tax cocktail is most probably a variation on the classic Bronx cocktail, which is an aromatic type of gin cocktail, being a perfect martini with the addition of orange juice.  Therefore, it seems natural that to understand the ethos of the Income Tax, we have to look at the Bronx, which is also known as the Mecca according to Embury (169).  The Bronx was popular drink pre-prohibition, which probably had some prohibition popularity as well, considering the use of the juice helps to mask the flavors and aroma of gin.

The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar book claims that the Bronx was made by Johnnie Solon prior to 1917, as a response to a challenge by a waiter, and was a nod to the Bronx Zoo (Regan 230-231).  It seems quite possible that the drink was around since 1904, over thirteen years earlier than the cited report by the Waldorf Astoria, when there is a list of relatively new cocktails that was published, including the Bronx in its’ enumeration (Wondrich 223). 

There is some contention in whether the Bronx was a member of the Martini family, or if it was an offshoot of something else at the time known as the Duplex, a drink which was a perfect mix of both sweet and dry vermouth with orange bitters (Regan 231). Yet to me it seems more logical that it is would be an offshoot of a Martini more than a spin off of the Duplex, mainly because of the full bodied and ratio of gin in the drink: it doesn’t make sense that a cocktail such as the Duplex would have been changed by adding more of an ingredient than the two principle flavors int he drink, only to have it completely different in terms of taste. Wondrich cites this drink as a cocktail punch or variation on the Crusta, which seems logical, considering the inclusion of the orange juice would come at a time when most drinks were used to using lemon juice as the principle component (Wondrich 223-224).

Embury notes that the Bronx features a ton of different recipes: some books call for both types of vermouth, but most exhibit quite a bit of variation, with vocal nods towards using only one or the other (Embury 168).  Furthermore, the recipes vary in whether to include orange peel shaken with the cocktail, or to add a slice of orange into the glass.  Even some older recipes would include bitters, which throws off the entire ethos of the drink, and the designated difference with the Income Tax cocktail.  Yet the bitters were orange bitters in the case of the Bronx, and not aromatic bitters as is the case with the Income Tax cocktail (Wondrich 224).  Overall, the Bronx looks fairly similar to the Abbey, with the exception that it is a bit sweeter thanks to the inclusion of the sweet vermouth, and that the herbal components of the drink are a bit more pronounced in most vermouth when compared to Lillet blanc, the ingredient that formulates the difference in the Abbey. 

The Bronx has a few other variations, including the Silver Bronx, which adds in an egg white, and draws only upon Italian, sweet vermouth, and the Pineapple Bronx, which uses pineapple juice instead of orange juice.  Of these two variations, the Silver Bronx is rather interesting, since it adds a new textural component to the drink; but on the other hand, the Pineapple Bronx fails at what it does when compared to that of a Royal Hawaiian, or a Algonquin cocktail. Furthermore, Mecca, seems more to be yet another name for the Bronx than an additional variation, seeing as how there are no recipes that are provided for the Mecca, and there are other drinks that exhibit a plurality of names for the same thing (such as the Amber Dream / Bijou / Golden Glow) (Embury 168-169). 

Beyond these variations, if we add in the use of an aromatic bitter into the Bronx, we get the Income Tax cocktail, which is by far a superior drink to the original Bronx, adding in new notes of baking spice and a bit of bitter gentian that blends well against the sweetness of the fresh orange juice.  The Income Tax cocktail, according to Ted Haigh, was also known as a Bronx with bitters, (and also, as an aside, the Maurice in some old cocktail books) seemingly because of the negative connotation of being bitter towards Income Taxes and the government (Haigh 166).

In any case, whichever version you prefer to imbibe (personally I prefer the versions that include bitters, and of course, the ones made with fresh vermouth and fresh orange juice), it acts as a good medicine for the anxieties that come from living in a highly stressful economic climate.  But the same can be said about any alcoholic drink: they all act as a medicine to rest the anxieties of the soul.  But in the case of the Income Tax cocktail, the name evokes thoughts about the expectations of the state, and so works well as a panacea for those problems.  Even if the cocktail just acts as a placebo to calm the mind in the face of growing problems with neoliberalism, employment and welfare.

The Bronx:

1 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce orange juice

Shake ingredients with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with an orange twist.

Bronx variation:

1 ounce Plymouth gin
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes Orange bitters
1 teaspoon of orange juice

Shake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, with orange peel and cracked ice, straining into a chilled cocktail glass.  From Boothby’s World Drinks and How to Mix Them (1908).

Income Tax:

1 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce orange juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters (or other aromatic bitters)

Shake ingredients with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with an orange twist.

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Craddock, Henry.  1999.  The Savoy Cocktail Book.  Originally published 1930.  London: Pavilion Books.

Embury, David A.  2009.  The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.  Originally published 1948.  New York: Mud Puddle Books, Inc.

Haigh, Ted.  2009.  Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie and Beyond.  Beverly, Massachusetts: Quarry Books.

Regan, Gary.  2003.  The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender’s Craft.  New York: Random House.
 
Wondrich, David. 2007. Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar. New York: Penguin Group.