Death and Taxes

On April 28, 2011, in Andy Romine, News, The Booze Nerd, by Andy Romine

They say there are only two certainties in this life: death and taxes.

If you live in the United States, most of you have probably already completed your income taxes for this year. The forms are in the mail (or e-filed) and with any luck, you’re waiting on your refund. Or maybe you owe Uncle Sam and your pockets are a little lighter. Filed an extension to deal with the pain later?

Well, in any case, a libation might be just the thing.

The Income Tax

Let me introduce you to the Income Tax cocktail. This venerable Prohibition-era cocktail actually derives from an even more venerable drink called The Bronx (a relation to the Manhattan and the Brooklyn cocktails). The only real difference between the Bronx and the Income Tax is the addition of Angostura bitters.


This is not a drink to be taken lightly. It’s a potent brew, and as it’s original name “Bronx with Bitters” suggests, can be quite bitter. But then, aren’t you after forking over all your hard-earned cash?

I’ll admit, this is a cocktail outside my usual repertoire. I sampled several variations (research is hard!) and there were a few I just didn’t care for. The recipe I include here was the best balanced. It’s important not to skimp on the fresh orange juice, by the way. You need its bright flavor to balance out the gin. OJ out of a carton is right out!

I might just reserve this drink for those times when I need a shot of something to remind me that even the most bitter drink is better than doing my taxes.

Now, to that other certainty. One of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drinks was the aptly named “Death in the Afternoon.”

Death in the Afternoon

The story goes that Hemingway invented it while on a storm-tossed boat: champagne with its bubbles was thought to calm seasickness, much like ginger ale today. The name of the drink is also the title of Papa’s book on the bullfighting culture of Spain. I’m certain he enjoyed more than a few of these potions while he wrote it. Hemingway loved his cocktails, and they make many appearances in his work.

Death in the Afternoon (the cocktail) was first published in 1935, in So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon, edited by Sterling North and Carl Kroch. This collection of celebrity cocktails was a little tongue in cheek. Death in the Afternoon in particular was lauded for its ability to put “hair on your chest.”

Here are Hemingway’s instructions:

Pour one jigger of absinthe into a champagne glass. Add iced champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.

I don’t know about drinking 3-5 of them, slow or not. One is more than enough to cloud the head and/or put hair on your chest if that’s your thing. I do not recommend this drink as a topical ointment, however. It’s far too tasty for that.

So give these two a try and let me know what you think. Odds are after drinking one of these you won’t be so worried about death or taxes.



The Income Tax Cocktail

  • 1 1/2  oz gin
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • dash of Angostura bitters

Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with swathe of orange peel.


Death in the Afternoon

  • 1 1/2 oz absinthe
  • 4 oz of champagne (or use Spanish cava)

Pour the absinthe into a champagne flute. Top with iced champagne until it turns milky. And the glass is full. Drink. Repeat.

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One Response to Death and Taxes

  1. After doing income taxes, although I am not a big drinker, this cocktail sounds like its just the ticket…

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