Red Hook

Just when I started to think that every combination of classic ingredients must have been tried, along comes a drink like the Red Hook. This variation on the classic Manhattan is a fairly recent creation, credited to Enzo Errico, bartender at Sasha Petraske’s Milk & Honey in New York. Named for the neighborhood in South Brooklyn–a former industrial zone with cobblestone streets and Civil War-era brick buildings, now yet another revitalized urban area–the Red Hook is a little more rugged than your typical Manhattan. The Punt y Mes has a bitter component, kind of a cross between sweet vermouth and Campari, that gives the drink a kind of serrated edge, but the healthy dose of maraschino manages to simultaneously tone down the Punt y Mes while adding its own complicated personality to the mix. In cautious balance on a base of rye whiskey, this flavor pairing manages to bring out the strengths in each modifier, without any one flavor becoming too dominant.

Cheers to Ben at Zig Zag Cafe for introducing me to this one. A dedicated Manhattan drinker and all-around rye-whiskey fiend, I think I’ve found a new favorite.

Red Hook

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce Punt y Mes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 ounce maraschino, to taste

Stir with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass.

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22 Responses to Red Hook

  1. The Red Hook is one of my favorites these days, and I have it almost every time I go to M&H. The formula I’ve had there is: 2 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey, 1/2 oz Punt e Mes and 1/2 oz Luxardo maraschino.

    I’m not sure it’s quite right to think of it as a Manhattan variant, though. Enzo told me it was inspired by the Brooklyn Cocktail, which is made with rye, sweet vermouth, Amer Picon and maraschino. The Punt e Mes is a stand-in for the sweet vermouth/Amer Picon combination.

    Nice site!

    – Sam

  2. I’ve become a big fan of this drink. I think when I first tried it at Zig Zag, Ben toned down the maraschino to about 1/4 ounce, and that’s the way I’ve taken to making them at home (though I’m using Maraska–Washington’s state-run liquor stores don’t carry Luxardo, and I wonder if that makes some difference).

    I hadn’t really thought about the Brooklyn / Red Hook connection, but now you point it out, I can see where Enzo’s coming from. I’ve noticed a number of these being poured at Zig Zag in recent weeks, so for what it’s worth, Enzo’s drink has found a receptive audience in Seattle. A thirsty city thanks him.

    Thanks for stopping by–


  3. […] When she came back, she sat down my Negroni and a fluted drink for Jen, who took a sip and was pleased. Katie said, “That’s a Red Hook, but topped with Champagne.” Paul’s got more on the Red Hook at Cocktail Chronicles, but it’s basically a variation on the Brooklyn cocktail. Made with rye, Punt y Mes, and maraschino, the Red Hook is hard-bitten and ribald, and the champagne smooths it out without sacrificing its character. Think James Woods in a tux. […]

  4. This has become a favorite of mine. I’m using Luxardo, and I found that I like to crank up the Punt e Mes and crank down the maraschino a bit (about 2/3 oz. Punt e Mes, about 1/3 oz. Luxardo).

    The whiskey varies – sometimes Old Overholt, usually Rittenhouse 100 proof, sometimes the young version of Sazerac Rye. I’ve also tried it with Old Grand-Dad 100 proof bourbon, and that works very well, too – but rye is the best for this drink.

    A couple of shakes of Fee’s Old Fashoned Bitters sometimes finds its way into the mix as well, or, some Peychaud’s.

  5. Critter–

    I agree–the maraschino has such a powerful flavor that it easily handles being toned down with more Punt e Mes, and I’ve taken to preparing mine this way, too.

    I envy you your rye selection–Sazerac isn’t distributed in my state (I’m nursing the bottle I brought back from New Orleans), and Rittenhouse is rumored to be about, but I have yet to see it locally.

  6. We’re pretty lucky in Chicago, rye-wise. 😉 That being said, Sazerac Jr. is getting hard to find around here – and the 18yo Sazerac disappeared from the shelves in a matter of weeks last fall. I have one unopened bottle awaiting the next release.

    One little twist that I tried with a recent Red Hook was to add peach bitters. This took an already intriguing drink to a whole new level!

  7. When Enzo worked at Matchbar in London, they were making Punt E Mes Manhattans.

    Maraschino liqueur was an optional extra in most early Manhattan recipes, so what is the fuss about?

  8. I finally got around to giving this the Red Hook a go, and… I think I like it, but I’m questioning the freshness of my Punt y Mes. I’m getting a strong, almost carbonated, flavor overpowering the rest. Does it lose its freshness like other vermouths?

    I tasted the Punt y Mes by itself, and it tastes a bit like campari + sweet vermouth. It’s definitely where the strong tingly-tongue feeling is coming from…

  9. I’ve been experimenting with this coctail for a couple months hand have found a fantastic alternate to the original recipe. Use 6 year Sazerac Rye
    Rosso Vermouth…(I like the simplicity) Insteat of Amer Picon try a dash of Fernet Branca and two dashes of Whisky Barrel Aged bitters from Fee Brothers. Garnish with an orange zest and…WOW.

  10. Well. I’m late to this discussion it seems!

    I’d have to say that Ben’s original recipe as poured at Milk and Honey is a great start to say the least. Yep, the maraschino can be toned down if one wishes, which I tend to do. [Note to Paul: the Luxardo maraschino can be found here in Washington State, but only at the bar-only liquor store downtown. That said, if you ask for it at 4th Ave. S. or on the 12th Ave. E. stores, they’ll order you a bottle or two.],

    In terms of the rye whiskey – I’m a bit partial to the Rittenhouse 100, which is easily available here in Seattle. The ‘baby’ Saz is dollar for dollar one of the better ryes out there for sipping I do believe, but I find that is is a tad too subtle for a drink like the Red Hook.

    That said, if you want to get truly decadent, you can go for the Red Hook rye – that 136proof masterpiece. You’d have to put a touch of water in there, but a Red Hook cocktail made with Red Hook rye? How fitting.

    Enjoy, y’all!

  11. Wow, late as usual. I’m going to try this ASAP.

    In Ontario we can’t get Punt y Mes but we DO have Dubonnet. Can anyone tell me if Dubonnet compares flavor wise?

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