This drink is believed by most to be invented in the 20th century. Many also believe this drink contains orange juice, both of these beliefs are incorrect. Here is an early printing of this drink:
Representative American plays – Page 891 by Arthur Hobson Quinn in 1765
“I don’t give a Bronx cocktail fer the credit o’ the state.”
This drink lost favor in the 19th century and was far behind in popularity to the fizzes, sours, and even martini. By the turn of the 20th century this drink regained its status and rose in popularity once again. What is confusing to most, is why such a classic drink would contain a relatively new ingredient. Well, that is easy to answer, it didn’t.
It is clear why many would think orange juice was an ingredient, because orange was a primary flavoring agent in this cocktail. The use of orange peel and orange bitters were both included in the original drink. Even as recent as prohibition these drink still mostly conformed to the original recipe as seen in these publications:
The ideal bartender – Page 20 by Thomas Bullock in 1917
“BRONX COCKTAIL Fill large Bar glass 2/3 full Shaved Ice. 1 jigger Dry Gin. 1 jigger French Vermouth. 1 jigger Italian Vermouth. 1 Slice Orange. Shake well; strain into Cocktail glass and serve.”
Mrs. Norton’s cook-book: selecting, cooking, and serving for the … – Page 510 by Jeanette Young Norton in 1917
“Bronx Cocktail One dash orange bitters, one third jigger of Italian vermouth, one third jigger of French vermouth, and one third jigger of Gordon gin. Frappe” and strain into cocktail glass, squeeze a piece of orange peel on top”
Shortly after the drinks recipe would soon be printed erroneously for years to come, and it would eventually lose orange bitters and orange peel as an ingredient. It is unclear why this happened, it seems recipes were semi-accurate even as recent as 1940. Then orange juice is introduced to this drink as early as 1944 and it’s been published that way ever since.
This drink dates between 1750 -1760 and contained at least as of then:
Shake these ingredients with fine ice:
Gin (Old Tom)
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with orange peel.