The Toronto Cocktail Recipe

Apr 27, 2012 2:01 pm

A Manhattan with Italy's pungent Fernet-Branca

Eat too much at dinner? Drink this cocktail to soothe your stomach.
Eat too much at dinner? Drink this cocktail to soothe your stomach.

From its origins in the mid-1800s, the Manhattan's combination of American whiskey, Italian Vermouth and Angostura bitters has expanded to countless variations on this timeless theme. These days, a number of new creations utilizing the increasing availability of Italian amaros in the U.S. market can be found in many bars, and though outcomes vary, it seems people are taking a liking to this trend of adding bitter complexity.

While traveling throughout Italy, it's clear that amaro (or a bitter herbal liqueur often used for aiding in digestion) has long been a staple at cafes in even the furthest reaches of the country. Brands like Averna, Ramazzotti, Montenegro, Aperol, Campari and Fernet-Branca are the most ubiquitous; almost as easily found as Absolut, Bacardi and Jameson in this country. Fernet is one of the more bitter amari, with its still-secret recipe of over 40 herbs and spices, including peppermint, cardamom, gentian, myrrh and saffron (Fernet is one of the largest consumers of saffron in the world), resulting in a pungently medicinal but strangely addictive spirit.

Of course, only a Manhattan-style drink could tame this unyielding bitter flavor, and the Toronto is a prime introduction to those who are uncertain about Fernet. If nothing else, take comfort in the fact that this drink will cure an aching stomach after a big meal, as Fernet has been used for this purpose (among others) in Italy since it's creation in the mid-1800s. Amaro can be your friend, but only if you take a leap of faith into the bitter abyss. Enjoy! 


Servings: 1 cocktail


2 ounces Rittenhouse Rye
3/4 ounce Fernet-Branca
1/4 ounce simple syrup
dash of Angostura bitters
  1. Combine ingredients in a chilled mixing glass and stir with ice for 15 seconds.
  2. Strain into chilled coupe and serve. Garnish with an orange twist.
Level of Difficulty: 
Prep Time: 
5 minutes
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