The Brown Cocktail and the Rosemary Cocktail

Both of these vintage cocktails come from The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book. The Brown was purportedly named for a student from the university of the same name, while the Rosemary’s provenance is explained somewhere else in the book other than with its recipe. Unfortunately, a cursory examination failed to find said explanation, and frankly, a cursory examination is all I have time for at the moment. (*UPDATE* – It was named after a play or show of the same name “with which John Drew and one of Charles Frohman’s best companies helped open the Astoria part of the Old Waldorf-Astoria.” There. Feel better?)

These are two simple drinks, and almost identical.

The Brown Cocktail:

1/2 whiskey

1/2 French (dry) vermouth

The Rosemary Cocktail:

1/2 bourbon

1/2 French (dry) vermouth

2 dashes orange bitters

Brown and Rosemary Cocktails

They look indistinguishable. While the Rosemary’s recipe specifies bourbon, the Brown’s merely says “whiskey;” I used bourbon for both so as to have a clearer comparison. This was a good example of the added dimensions bitters can bring to a cocktail. The Rosemary is fine as far as cocktails go, but not especially interesting, and the bourbon and vermouth don’t mingle very well. It’s almost as if you are drinking from a glass of each out of two separate straws. The orange bitters in the Brown, meanwhile, seem to knit the two other ingredients’ flavors together, injecting as well a nice little touch of citrus, making the latter drink an altogether more pleasant experience. Three livers for the Rosemary, four for the Brown.

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