Certain times of the year call for certain beverages. You have your Christmas egg nog, margaritas aplenty for Cinco de Drinko, and countless other excuses through the year to knock back a drink. One day that needs no excuse is, of course, April 15. The mere mention strikes dread in the hearts of Americans -- even more than Friday the 13th.
It just so happens that almost a century ago, someone created a salve for this week's woes. It is, of course, the Income Tax cocktail. It's one of the more obscure vintage cocktails, but it deserves to be hoisted this weekend, all through Monday . . . Heck, it's great any time of year.
Sadly, the exact origins of the Income Tax have long been lost to the sands of time. What we do know is that it's basically a Bronx cocktail, but with the addition of Angostura bitters. Of course, if you weren't already familiar with the Income Tax, you probably haven't heard of the Bronx, either. But, back in the heady days after Prohibition, it was one of the most popular cocktails, playing second fiddle to only the Martini and Manhattan. Need proof? Watch the classic film The Thin Man. When we first encounter protagonist Nick Charles, he's giving the local bartenders a quick lesson in how to properly shake a Manhattan, a Bronx, and a dry Martini.
You'll notice all three cocktails share the same basic structure of spirits and vermouth; the Bronx adds a splash of orange juice. While people tend to take their Martinis dry and Manhattans sweet, the Bronx came out perfect. Now, I don't necessarily mean it was always expected to be flawless; "perfect" in cocktail terms means to use equal parts of dry and sweet vermouth. It's a rare order these days (I think the last time I saw someone order it was about five years ago), but the term is known by more bars than you think.
I should mention with the orange juice: The quality of your juice will make or break this drink. It's not bad with refrigerated bottled juice, but it really sings if you take the time to squeeze an orange yourself. If all your bar has is that shelf-stable bottled juice . . . find a different bar.
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Income Tax Cocktail 1 ounce orange juice 1 ½ ounces gin ¾ ounce dry vermouth ¾ ounce sweet vermouth 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake everything with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Repeat if you had to write a check to Uncle Sam.