Wondering what to do with my opened bottle of port from Christmas, and looking for drinks to use it in, the discovery of the Suburban came as a happy surprise. It is a very, very good drink indeed & definitely worth trying.
Port may not appear too often on modern cocktail lists, but its inclusion in British mixed drinks is as old as the drink itself: punch was often made with port or another fortified wine, along with brandy, and served at Christmas. Taylors, one of the older port houses still features a recipe on their website.
The Suburban then is an unusual creature, using port but coming from an American source: the drink appears in the Waldorf-Astoria bar book, and the name comes from a horse race of the same name, the Suburban classic. This late C19th appearance puts it into the ‘classic’ category of drinks, and I would say it certainly was. The drink is a solid mix of bourbon (or rye, if you prefer), port & dark rum with plenty of bitters and he result is a cross between a Manhattan and an Old-Fashioned, but a very grown-up hybrid of the two. It’s a cocktail to be approached with care, drunk in a panelled room, lit by a roaring fire.
I am following Richard Godwin’s suggestion in his excellent drinks book, The Spirits, and using tawny port. This is lighter, more flavourful, than ruby or vintage port, and does not overpower the drink with excessive sweetness.
40ml of bourbon (Buffalo Trace here)
20ml of tawny port (Graham’s 10y.o. tawny here)
20ml of dark rum (Havana Club 7y.o. here)
Good dashes of Angostura bitters
Good dashes of orange bitters (Fee’s, here)
Stir ingredients over ices, then strain into an Old-Fashioned glass with fresh ice. Garnish with large slice of orange zest.