Have you ever made a drink recipe that you got from a book or online that's simply terrible? I know I have. And when this happens, my (and perhaps your) first thoughts turn self-deprecating... what did I do wrong? Did I use the right amount of ingredients? Perhaps the type of spirit I used wasn't of the right style. Were my ingredients fresh enough?
Surely an occurrence like this is more common when using new and green recipes from the internet, but what if it happens when using an old book... when you make a recipe that's supposedly tried and true? Surely you're the one at fault, not the recipe... right?
Rowen over at the Fogged In Lounge has just finished an in-depth exploration of this problem. He spent the entire month of March getting intimate with the Bronx cocktail. You can find the recipe for the Bronx in just about any respectable cocktail book, and yet among enthusiasts, the drink is hardly lauded. I am of the same sentiment; the Bronx, to me, feels flat and one dimensional.
Rowen took the time to make a multitude of variations on the Bronx to see what worked in the drink and what did not, which you can read about here. In his wrap-up of the experiment, Rowen concluded that what the Bronx was missing was essentially some type of bitters, which he finds tends to finally unite the flavors of the rest of the drink. Despite the fact that you'll probably only ever see the Bronx call for 4 ingredients, to quote Rowen, "The Bronx is really a 5-ingredient cocktail."
Even Erik of the Underhill-Lounge, in his run-through of all the cocktails in the Savoy, admits that the drink is better with bitters, and he even uses a bitter vermouth when preparing the drink.
This all goes to show an important lesson: Don't assume that a recipe is great just because it's in a book, no matter how prestigious. And a corollary to that: You're allowed to dislike whatever you want, despite what anyone says.