Yes, believe it or not, there really is a drink called the Income Tax Cocktail. And what better day than April 15th (or, perhaps this year, the 18th) to give this gin-based classic a try?
An old-timey concoction dating back to the late 1920s, the Income Tax cocktail is basically a Bronx cocktail (gin, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, and orange juice) with an added dash of aromatic bitters.
I did a little reading in the hopes of discovering a colorful - if somewhat apocryphal - story behind this drink's creation, but perhaps in keeping with the Income Tax's no-nonsense name, it was all just the (plain and unromantic) facts, ma'am.
General consensus is, though, that the bitters are included in the recipe as a wink and a nod to the "bitterness" of tax season. After many bleary-eyed hours spent chasing after wayward slips of paper, and checking and rechecking digits and decimal points, I think many of us can relate to that.
In the many published recipes for this drink, ingredient proportions tend to vary widely. (Equal parts sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, and orange juice? Or dial back the two vermouths, and amp up the juice? A full shot of gin or just a little? Add one dash of bitters or two?) I experimented a bit and found my own personal favorite: heavy on the juice, light on the vermouth and bitters. Oh, and for little extra tax-season symbolism, I used blood orange juice too.
Income Tax Cocktail
makes one drink
1 1/2 ounces gin 1/4 ounce dry vermouth 1/4 ounce sweet vermouth 1 ounce orange juice (I used blood orange) 1 dash Angostura bitters Optional garnish: orange twist
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC’s Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.