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The Brooklyn cocktail is a unique spin on the Manhattan! Maraschino liqueur and bitters make a nuanced finish to this stunning drink.

Brooklyn cocktail
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Love a Manhattan? Then you absolutely must try this unique spin: the Brooklyn cocktail! The Brooklyn is similarly spirit forward, with a few special twists to add nuance. Maraschino liqueur and dry vermouth add intrigue and round out the flavor in this sophisticated drink. This one is perfect for impressing friends at a dinner party or cocktail hour. And if you spring for a bottle of Maraschino, there are lots of other classic cocktails you can make. Here’s what to know about this historic drink.

What is a Brooklyn cocktail?

The Brooklyn cocktail is a mixed drink named after the Brooklyn neighborhood in New York City. It’s a spin on the Manhattan using rye whiskey, dry vermouth and Maraschino liqueur. The first printed recipe for this drink appeared in 1908, invented by a bartender named Jack Grohusko. Jack was a bartender at a restaurant in lower Manhattan and his only link to Brooklyn was that the owner of the restaurant lived in Brooklyn. Whatever the case, the name stuck!

The ingredients in a Brooklyn cocktail are:

  • Rye whiskey
  • Dry vermouth (the original 1908 recipe used sweet vermouth)
  • Maraschino liqueur
  • Amer Picon or other herbal, citrusy amaro (see notes below)

Let’s talk through a few of the ingredients, shall we?

Brooklyn cocktail

All about Maraschino liqueur

The Brooklyn cocktail features an ingredient you might not already have on hand: maraschino liqueur. Now, this is not the liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries! Don’t be fooled by the name. Here’s what to know about it:

  • Maraschino liqueur is a clear, cherry-flavored liqueur that’s used in several classic cocktails. The flavor is dry with a hint of sweet, with sour cherry and almond notes.
  • How much does Maraschino liqueur cost? It costs about $30 for a bottle. It’s worth buying for the at-home home bartender. There are several brands of maraschino liqueur: a popular one is Luxardo (which we found at our local liquor store).
  • What cocktails use Maraschino liqueur? It’s also used in other classic cocktails like the Martinez, Hemingway Daiquiri, Last Word, and the lovely purple Aviation.
Brooklyn cocktail

What is Amer Picon, and what are substitutes?

Amer Picon is a bitter-orange flavored French aperitif. It’s used in some classic cocktail recipes, but it’s very hard to find in the US. We’ll go ahead and assume you can’t find it (we couldn’t). Here’s what to substitute for Amer Picon in the Brooklyn cocktail:

  • An herbal, citrusy amaro like Amaro Tosolini. An amaro is an Italian bitter liqueur (amaro means “bitter” in Italian). There are many types of amaro, so your best bet is to go to your local liquor store and check out the tasting notes on various types of amaro. (Ask the store for help if you need it)
  • Angostura bitters. The easier substitute for Amer Picon in a Brooklyn cocktail is simply a few dashes of bitters! You can use any type of bitters you have on hand, but Angostura is the easiest to find.

For adventurous home bartenders, we recommend trying to find Amaro Tosolini: it adds interesting flavors (and then you can use it for an Amaro Spritz and other must-try amaro cocktails). But it’s a very subtle flavor, so if you’re a beginner level drinker: don’t bother with it! Angostura bitters work just as well.

Use dry vermouth, or substitute sweet

Vermouth is a fortified wine, meaning that liquor has been added to the wine to make it last longer. There are two main types: sweet (usually red) and dry (usually white). You probably already have one or both in your liquor collection. Here’s what to know about the vermouth in the Brooklyn cocktail:

  • Dry vermouth: The Brooklyn is traditionally served with dry vermouth. But the original 1906 recipe used sweet vermouth. According to experts (quoted in Difford’s Guide), the drink might taste even better with sweet vermouth.
  • Sweet vermouth: Making the Brooklyn with sweet vermouth makes it closer to a Manhattan and Martinez. Speaking of…
How to make Brooklyn cocktail

The Brooklyn cocktail is a spirit-forward drink that’s made with all liquor: no mixers like citrus juices or soda water. This gives it a straight-forward, boozy flavor and makes it great for sipping. There are several classic cocktails that have a similar formula:

  • Manhattan Simply whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry!
  • Martinez Like a Manhattan with gin! It also uses sweet vermouth and Maraschino liqueur.
  • Toronto Rye whiskey, Fernet-Branca and simple syrup make a boozy combination.
  • Rob Roy Scotch, red vermouth and bitters: a cocktail for Scotch lovers!
  • Hanky Panky Gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet-Branca make a sippable gin drink.

When to serve a Brooklyn cocktail

The Brooklyn cocktail is a sophisticated and impressive cocktail. It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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How to make Brooklyn cocktail

Brooklyn Cocktail

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


The Brooklyn cocktail is a unique spin on the Manhattan! Maraschino liqueur and bitters make a nuanced finish to this stunning drink. 


  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) dry vermouth
  • ½ tablespoon Maraschino liqueur
  • ½ tablespoon herbal citrusy amaro like Amer Picon*, or a few dashes of Angostura bitters
  • For the garnish: lemon twist, Luxardo cherry or cocktail cherry


  1. Add the rye whiskey, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and amaro to a cocktail shaker and fill it with ice. Shake vigorously until cold.
  2. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon slice or crystalized ginger, if desired.


*Amer Picon can be hard to find, so ask your liquor store for an herbal, citrusy amaro. We used Amaro Tosolini. 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. David says:

    Bigallet China China Liqueur is a decent substitute for Picon Amer and much easier to get in the US.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Hi there, I believe your instructions for this drink are from another cocktail.

    I’ll go for the original lineup of ingredients, thanks!

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      We’ve updated the recipe. Thank you!