Option 1: Gather ingredients that are representative of the culture/geography/tackiness of your respective cities and make a drink with a truly place-based style.
Option 2: Dig up an old drink that came from your city and revive it! If you can find the original bar, that would be even more interesting.
I thought this would be fun; of course New York is rich in cocktail lore. If only there was a cocktail named after New York...hmmm, we've got the Manhattan, the Bronx, the Brooklyn (and the Red Hook.) I don't know of a Staten Island cocktail (I'd rather call it "the Richmond", anyway) or a Queens cocktail, though my Queens neighborhood and the Astoria cocktail share a namesake. But the Astoria is a Martini by another name, and not as interesting to write about. So I delved into CocktailDB, and came up with the New Yorker cocktail.
I'm not sure if this is named after the magazine, the hotel (where Huey Long famously brought a bartender and introduced the Ramos Gin Fizz to New York), or just a denizen of the Big Apple, but it's a wonderful name for a cocktail. There seems to be some disagreement, though, over exactly what the drink consists of. The February 4, 1939 issue of the New Yorker (the magazine this time) mentions, on page 11, that "the New Haven diners occasionally feature on their menu a New Yorker cocktail, a mixture of bourbon and lime juice. The card which you find pinned to the menu describes the drink, names the price, and adds, 'Only two to a customer, no gentleman asks for three.'" Bourbon and lime? It could work, but seems to me to be awfully pungent without something there to smooth it out. (Or perhaps that was New Havenites' opinion of their big-city neighbors...)
However, the recipe you'll find in CocktailDB for a New Yorker cocktail is altogether different, calling for bourbon, claret, lemon, and sugar. Other than Champagne, I've never had wine in a cocktail (until a Chardonnay cocktail I tasted the other night at Death & Co -- more on that anon), but vermouth is nothing but a fortified wine, as are aperitifs such as Lillet and Dubonnet, so I soldiered on.
How does it taste? It tastes...um, exactly like you'd expect a lemon-spiked mixture of whiskey and red wine to taste: very sharp and angular. I'm not sure I can describe myself as a fan, though the taste is in the same ballpark as some grogs and other hot wine-based drinks...think of this as a cold toddy. It got better after a few sips, though, and I did like the rich deep red color.
I contemplated decreasing the lemon while upping the sugar, but I didn't want the lemon to get lost. (This did feel like a fairly acidic drink, however.) So, instead, I added a touch more simple syrup, and that made for a smoother, more balanced cocktail. The wine's tannins are an unusual (but welcome) note in the drink, and I really liked the way the whiskey's aftertaste interacted with the tannins, giving this cocktail a very different kind of finish.
The New Yorker Cocktail
- 1 1/2 oz. bourbon
- 1/2 oz. claret
- 1/2 oz. lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. simple syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.