The Savoy Variations: Fernet-Branca Cocktail

I’m bored, so I’m taking random cocktail recipes from The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), giving them a try, and modifying/improving them if I think it’s necessary, and reporting my findings here.

Fernet-Branca Cocktail

p. 70

I figured I was going to hate this one before I even started: Fernet Branca, while a darling of professional bartenders[1], tastes gross to me. And indeed, the cocktail was just nasty.[2]

  • ¼ Fernet-Branca
  • ¼ Italian (sweet vermouth)
  • ½ dry gin

There is a note beneath the recipe: “One of the best ‘morning-after’ cocktails ever invented. Fernet-Branca, an Italian vegetable extract, is a marvellous [sic] headache cure.”

Sure.

But what if you used one of the other amaros/bitters?

I randomly chose Vecchio Amaro Del Capo, which I think I bought because it appeared in some recipe I wanted to try, but with which I am not overly familiar — and it worked. It’s slightly sweet, not overly bitter, and way better than the mentholated cough syrup known as Fernet-Branca.

Vecchio Amaro Cocktail

  • ¾ oz Vecchio Amaro Del Capo
  • ¾ oz Italian (sweet vermouth)
  • 1 ½ oz dry gin

Much better, and worth repeating. I may make further adjustments to its balance, play with the gin involved, etc. If so, I’ll report back.

SAVOY VARIATIONS SCORECARD:

  • Savoy: 1
  • Dale: 2
  • Sink: 3

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[1] Personally, I think it’s one of those in-group things; they all take a shot of Fernet-Branca as a gesture of solidarity, and then they grimace as they clink shot glasses.

[2] You may very well like Fernet-Branca. If so, I will say that the original recipe will probably delight you. Plus, what is wrong with you?

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