There are a dearth of cocktails containing Fernet-Branca. How do I know this? My previous Fernet post is far and away the most popular post I’ve written; at the time of this writing it has 3,829 views while the homepage has 2,226. As such, I feel it behooves me to create some more.
A search on CocktailDB yields 28 results. The easiest entry point for the uninitiated is the Fanciulli (sometimes Franciulli) cocktail. Essentially a Manhattan with Fernet in place of the Angostura bitters, I find myself making this more often than the traditional Manhattan. (My Fanciulli recipe is 2oz rye, 1oz sweet vermouth, 1/4oz Fernet.)
Looking through the rest of CocktailDB’s Fernet cocktail listings, I notice that many of them consist of spirit, sweet vermouth and Fernet. As Fernet is a bit of a bully, I sought to find an spirit that could stand up to it. The answer is unaged white whiskey, aka white dog. With it’s bold flavor, the white dog isn’t overwhelmed and definitely holds its own.
Dog Will Hunt
1.5 oz white dog (House Spirits)
.5 oz Fernet-Branca
.5 oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
1 bar spoon 2:1 rich Demerara syrup
Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel.
I should note that the white dog I used is 100 proof. If you use a lower proof whiskey, like Woodinville Headlong or Death’s Door, increase to 2oz. Also white dogs vary widely in flavor, perhaps more so than aged whiskeys which are mellowed by the wood. The House Spirits white dog is 100% barley, thus its flavor is unique among unaged whiskeys.
I’ve been waiting for an internet booze order for days and it didn’t get here in time. That’s a shame as three of the four bottles were bitter liqueurs. Since I’ve already played around so much with Fernet-Branca, I was forced to borrow some Cynar (one of the bottles in the aforementioned order) from my sister-in-law.
After various experiments —mainly Toronto variations— I realized I needed to move in a different direction. A friend left half a bottle of brandy at our house at the end of a west coast road trip, which made me think Vieux Carré. But I knew that I couldn’t just substitute the Cynar for one of the ingredients; it makes no sense. Then I remembered an article David Wondrich wrote in Esquire [if anyone has a link please let me know!] where he talked about an after dinner drink consisting of equal parts rye and amaro. Then my brain combined that with the Vieux Carré. The result (with what I used in parentheses):
1oz rye whiskey (Jim Beam Rye)
1/2oz brandy (Raynal VSOP)
1/2oz dry vermouth (Boisierre Extra Dry)
2 dashes Angostura
2 dashes Peychaud’s
Stir with ice until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel over glass and rub on rim.
The result is simultaneously bitter and sweet, ideal for a cool, rainy evening such as this in Portland, OR. This could also be served in a rocks glass with a large ice cube.
My backup drink is a nightcap.
Drink whiskey all night.
Leave a bit of the last one in the glass.
Swirl and dump, like a rinse. But dump into your mouth.
Fill with Fernet-Branca.
Not stirred, but I know that happens to me some nights. Cheers.