Yes, believe it or not, there really is a drink called the Income Tax cocktail. And what better day than April 18 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.
The name of this cocktail makes me laugh, and also nod my head. Of all the days that require a cocktail, Tax Day has got to be at the top of the list. Whether you're scrambling to file on time, just discovering that you owe money, or want to celebrate a refund, this citrusy cocktail is the solution to all of those things.
I must confess, I'm a former self-professed non-gin drinker, and mixing this cocktail was my first time making a drink that involved vermouth (in any form) or bitters. While I had an open mind, I half expected to wince after the first sip. But, that couldn't be further from what happened. This is a light, citrusy, well-rounded cocktail. It's perfect for Tax Day, and frankly any other day of the year.
This cocktail would also work well, and look quite pretty, with blood orange juice.
- Kelli, April 2015
The Income Tax Cocktail
1 1/2 ounces gin
1/4 ounce dry vermouth
1/4 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce orange juice
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.
This recipe has been updated — originally published April 2011.