Drinkers are privy to an endless string of Manhattan variations, from classics like the Rob Roy and modern-classics like the Red Hook to new riffs that appear every day. The cocktail’s three-part recipe is ripe for experimentation, with some versions hewing closely to the original and others taking a wide berth. This particular variation is the Jockey Club, which sticks close to home with bourbon, sweet vermouth and maraschino liqueur.
The recipe was provided by bar pro and distiller Allen Katz, but it’s an old drink that first appeared in David Embury’s 1948 book, “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.” It’s essentially a bourbon Manhattan with a dash of maraschino liqueur and no bitters.
The first Manhattans mixed in the late 1800s used rye whiskey, and many recipes continue to call for the same base spirit today. Rye is generally spicier than bourbon, but bourbon is a popular choice in Manhattans that doesn’t stray too far in flavor profile. Sweet vermouth rounds out the whiskey with its herbal botanicals and floral edges.
Maraschino liqueur is nothing like the bright-red cherries used to top ice cream sundaes. It’s made with Maraska cherries, which are small, firm and slightly sour fruits that were originally cultivated on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. Several companies produce maraschino liqueurs, but most are bittersweet, and many contain hints of an almond-like character.
Stir your ingredients together, and you get a spirit-forward, well-balanced cocktail that’s like a mix between the Manhattan and Red Hook (the latter also calls for maraschino liqueur).
Interestingly, there is another Jockey Club recipe that calls for gin, fresh lemon juice, creme de noyaux (a 19th-century French liqueur made with apricot and cherry pit kernels, bitter almonds and other botanicals), simple syrup and bitters. This one hit the print circuit first, appearing in Harry Craddock’s famous 1930 tome, “The Savoy Cocktail Book.”
It’s unclear why two wholly different recipes were given the same name. But it could simply be that the authors enjoyed horse races. Both London and New York, where Craddock and Embury resided, hosted Jockey Clubs.
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
Garnish: brandied cherry
Add the bourbon, sweet vermouth and maraschino liqueur to a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a brandied cherry on a cocktail pick.