Cocktail: The Income Tax

Photo stolen from Kitchen Riffs, since my attempt at similar composition stank in comparison.

Gee, what is it about today that has me writing about this particular cocktail?

Well, first, I’d like to offer this up as a little homage and thank you to the long-suffering folks at Windham Brannon who labor each year to do my taxes, whilst I labor to retain my title as Most Needlessly Difficult Client™. (How am I doing this year, Mary Beth?)

Second, I’ve been having a few of these recently anyway, triggered in the experimenting by Rowan’s Bronxathon at Fogged In Lounge.
As Rowan detailed in all 17 posts, the Bronx (a hybrid sour and aromatic cocktail) is a practically infinitely variable drink. But among the very best modifications is the “Bronx Wit’ Bitters”, a.k.a. The Income Tax. I can’t decide whether it is one of the most or least appropriately named cocktails around.

I’d say it’s pretty appropriately named!
My Tax Days are usually bitter.

Yes, though mine wasn’t too bad this year. Unfortunately, one of the earliest aphorisms I coined was, “A bad April 15th means it’s been a pretty good year.” I’m afraid I’m not alone in having a “good” Tax Day in 2011.
Alternatively, it is inappropriately named because the damn thing is delicious. Frankly, I think the name is the main reason a drink this interesting and accessible never really returned to popularity after the end of Prohibition.

The other reason I wanted to write about The Income Tax is that it is a wonderful illustration of the power of bitters. A basic Bronx does very little for me as a drink. It’s muddled, inassertive, and just a bit dull. Just two dashes of Angostura takes that same drink and wakes up each and every flavor therein, without really imparting any actual, you know, bitterness. It’s lovely. Try one after you let the mail chute close behind your envelope this year.


  • 2 parts London dry gin
  • 1 part dry vermouth
  • 1 part sweet vermouth
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Combine with ice in a shaker. Shake vigorously with one hand while balling the other into a fist and shaking even more vigorously in the direction of Washington, DC. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of orange.

As a final note, I’m not sure which is more important to be fresh in this drink, the vermouths or the OJ. Play it same and make sure all three are.


  1. Frederic

    18 April

    I think it livens up the drink because orange juice is a smoother and a deadener (if that is a word). The Bronx made with sour oranges was delightful (orange flavors with the crispness of lemons) whereas normal Bronxes are just alright.

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  2. Dagreb

    19 April

    I can no longer drink a Bronx variant without an onion. Thank you Mr Ellestad


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  3. Doug

    20 April

    I remember that post. Pickled Onions and orange juice? Really?
    Actually, pickled onions by themselves make me shudder.

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  4. Dagreb

    20 April

    Sometimes I make a Gibson just as an excuse to have onions.

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  5. Doug

    21 April

    You are a very strange man….

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  6. kitchenriffs

    22 April

    Great photo! 😉 Thanks for the credit. You bring up a great point re the importance of having fresh vermouth in this drink. (Actually, it’d never occur to me that someone wouldn’t have reasonably fresh vermouth – meaning stored properly in the ‘fridge and used within a month or so after opening). But without fresh OJ this drink just tastes flat, so to me that’s the most important thing.

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  7. Doug

    22 April


    Sadly, I’d bet that 80% (or more) of american households which have vermouth at all have a bottle which is very stale and has never seen the inside of a fridge.

    But you are right in that the OJ is critical. I actually think in most cocktails it isn’t as important to use fresh OJ as it is lime or lemon juice, but in a tricky to balance a drink like the Bronx and its often better progeny, it really makes a difference.

    And yes, it is a great composition you did in that picture. The broken pencil and aspirin bottle make it work.

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