Hook ’em Horns! The Red Hook

No, it’s not really a post about the University of Texas. It’s about the Red Hook cocktail, of course. But since I’m from Texas, a Houston cocktail blogger, to be exact, I like to think the Red Hook is named after UT, definitely not the University of Tennessee. So forget the actual history, let’s pretend that the Red Hook is really more of a burnt orange hook.

Even if you’re not a fan (sorry, Aggies. I actually have no skin in the game. I went to the University of Houston for graduate school.) you can still enjoy a Red Hook cocktail. The first time I had one was in San Antonio, made by a bartender at the Esquire Tavern named Leighton. Back then, I was afraid of maraschino. I liked it, of course, but it seemed to take everything over, like a tiny Napoleon bully that just wouldn’t back down. So I asked him to go easy on the maraschino. The drink was good, but not as good as if I had just trusted him.

So now I return to the Red Hook in all of its maraschino glory. Stir with ice:

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz punt e mes
  • 1/2 oz maraschino liqueur

and strain into a chilled coupe. Then garnish with a brandied or bourboned cherry. Or even a maraschino cherry. Just not a bright red one.

The drink has a tiny bit of bitterness, but nothing like anything with Campari. It’s really more like a sweeter Manhattan. It tastes like my version of the Manhattan with rye, a lot of vermouth, and a touch of triple sec. The Red Hook, like any Manhattan, tastes of whiskey, but the whiskey burn is tempered by its sweeter counterparts. It is also given a bit more sweetness, the perfect amount from the maraschino and Punt e Mes.

A drink I can return to anytime. Perfect for winter or summer. A sweet and dry cocktail that deserves a place on every cocktail menu.

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