According to the PDT Cocktail Book, this drink was named for the zoo, and not the borough. Like most classics, the cocktail has different origin stories, but the consensus seems to be that it was widely known by 1905 or so. By the 1930s, it had become one of the world’s most famous cocktails, ranking third on 1934’s “The World’s Ten Most Famous Cocktails” list in Burke's Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes, just behind the Martini and the Manhattan,before falling somewhat out of favor in modern times.
The key to this drink is fresh orange juice from fully ripened, flavorful juice oranges – Valencia or blood oranges are good choices. Use juice from a bottle or carton at your peril! Also, I recommend avoiding bitter vermouths (such as Punt e Mes), because they really don’t play well with the OJ. Use a soft, sweet vermouth, and you’ll be fine.
Incidentally, as Ted Haigh points out in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, if you add just a dash of Angostura Bitters to this cocktail, it becomes an Income Tax Cocktail.
- 2 oz. Gin (Ford’s)
- 1 oz. Fresh Orange Juice
- 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
- .75 oz. Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake thoroughly. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. No garnish.
This article is a modified and enhanced version of a post that ran on my nightly cocktail blog, DrinkShouts. Liquors in parentheses are what I used when I made this recipe, and are included as suggestions.