Archive for the ‘Fernet Branca’ Category

posted in DigBoston



Hangovers are a part of serious imbibing, as we were unpleasantly reminded the morning after our punch party last week. With New Years Eve nearly upon us, we wanted to offer a brief round up of strategies to help you cope the morning after:


Preventative Measures
As Pink Gin says, “You need to plan on the possibility that you’ll skip the night-before remedy. If you remember it, do you really need it?” Make these suggestions your mantra during the day while sober and you just may remember to follow them later in the evening:


Slow Your Roll Early: Have some nice, low alcohol sips in mind when you belly up to the bar. Cocktails made with low-alcohol liqueurs, like a Campari & soda, vermouth-based Half Sinner, Half Saint, or a San Francisco can keep you from getting too drunk too fast.


Water, water, water: Just do it. A glass between drinks is a good metric.


Eat. A Lot.: Eat a healthy portion of your dinner, even if you’re feeling full from all the water you’re drinking. You body will thank you. And, depending on how late you stay up, a second dinner might be appropriate.


Herbal Remedies as a Preemptive Strike: Take milk thistle before you start drinking (for your liver), B12 & B6 (for your hangover). One LUPEC pal swears by activated carbon pills: 2 with the first drink, one per each additional drink. All can be purchased at Whole Foods.


Morning-After Measures
Upon waking, you will likely need to ease into your day with a hearty breakfast, coconut water, ginger ale or beer, and a healthy dose of Advil. As Charles H. Baker writes of the “sort of human withering on the vine” that is the hangover in The Gentleman’s Companion, (repubbed as Jigger, Beaker, and Glass), the “Picker-Upper” is the only possible cure for when you feel “precisely like Death warmed up”: “We have…come to distrust all revivers smacking of drugdom. It is a small, tightly vicious cycle to get into, and a bit of well-aged spirits with this or that, seems much safer and more pleasant than corroding our innards with chemicals of violent proclivities, and possible habit-forming ways.”


After all, there are just two proven ways to never get a hangover: never start drinking or never stop. Once you’re ready for a little hair of the dog, any of these recipes should do:


Andy McNees’ Hangover Eraser Nos 1 & 2: For the original, build the following over ice in a pint glass: A shot of Fernet, two dashes of every kind of bitters on the bar, top with Soda water. Drink as quickly as you can through two straws like a Mind Eraser. See below for recipe No. 2.


Bloody Marys: There’s a good amount of vitamins in that there tomato juice.


Fizzes: During the pre-Prohibition heyday of the cocktail, the fizz held forth as the hangover cure de rigeur for sporting men. “Into the saloon you’d go, the kindly internist behind the bar would manipulate a bottle or two, and zam! There stood the glass packed with vitamins, proteins, and complex sugars, foaming brightly and aglow with the promise of sweet release,” writes David Wondrich in Imbibe! If you’ve never tried a Pink Lady before, now’s the time.


Good luck to you, dear readers! As Virginia Elliot and Phil D. Strong wrote in their 1930 volume Shake ‘Em Up, always remember to “Take cheer from the thought that if you are healthy enough to suffer acutely, you will probably live.”


1 oz Fernet
.5 oz ginger syrup
.5 oz lemon juice
Dash Peychaud’s bitters
Dash Angostura bitters
Shake ingredients with ice & strain over new ice in a highball glass. Top with ginger beer.





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*Originally posted in DigBoston on December 22, 2011




Hangover cures: myth or reality?

Experience has taught us that there is no cure for a lack of self control. When you have a Fernet-drinking contest with yourself or polish off a bowl of something labeled “Blackout Punch,” that way danger lies.

Thus, we were skeptical of the publicist’s pitch that promised us a “special hangover remedy carefully marketed it in an easy-to-use, safe patch.” What was the secret, snake oil and unicorn tears? Or some blend chemicals that would cause cancer sometime down the road? And really, do these people understand how much we drink?

Cursory investigation revealed this cure, Bytox, to be nothing more than a time-release patch designed to replenish the vitamins and nutrients the body loses when consuming mass quantities of alcohol. That we had to try, if for no other reason than to pass the good word of this magic patch on to you should it work. Our civic duty.

We enlisted a dozen drinkers on two separate occasions to test this wonder. In the name of research they mixing blackout punch with champagne with beer with fernet and with wine. Very few made it through the night without some grey, hazy patches.

And the patch totally worked.

Several drinkers polled still felt rough the next day, probably because like most drunk people, they failed to follow the instructions. But if the physical symptoms of the hangover weren’t totally absent, in each case they were reduced. The metaphysical symptoms—the post drunk shame spiral that prompts a barrage of texts apologizing for blacking out and not paying the tab only to realise that you actually picked up the tab for the entire bar—well, that’s another story.

In short, Bytox is a not-scary, vitamin-based hangover cure that works. But if you misplace your dignity and self respect while imbibing, well there’s no magic patch for that. Sip on one of these before setting out to find them.


by Andy McNees of Toro
Build the following over ice in a pint glass:
Shot of Fernet, two dashes of every kind of bitters and top with Soda water.
Drink as quickly as you can through two straws like a Mind Eraser.

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DIG BOSTON  November 17, 2011

At heart, we Americans are a culture are prone to excess, especially when it comes to eating and drinking on Thanksgiving. Borrowing a page from cultured old Europe, we’d like to share one of our secrets for eating and drinking for hours on end:

a lovely little spirit category known as digestifs.

As the name implies digestifs are consumed post-dinner to help the diner, you now, digest. Often rife with herbs and spices believed to have stomach-settling properties, these tend to be higher in alcohol than their antecedent, the aperitif. Modern bartenders use them to add flavor to cocktails, though digestifs are traditionally served straight or on the rocks.

Any cocktail nerd worth his rye knows of Fernet, the cocktail bartender’s shot of choice. How this became so among the cocktail glitterati remains a mystery, but it most certainly has arrived. Earlier this month the brand toured the Boston-area in a tricked out VW Fernet bus. And you shouldn’t be shocked to find some of our favorite local bartenders astride a baby blue Fernet cruiser.


Huzzah for clever marketing.

The American anomaly of Fernet shots aside, this amaro, or bitter, is consumed in Italy after dinner to help digest. Like most liqueurs it has a secretive recipe, containing dozens of different herbs including saffron, aloe, gentian root, chamomile, myrrh, and so many more. The flavor: bitter like a boxing glove to the head, and a little minty.

Nothing could be so effective at pushing all that turkey down your gullet.

Nipping Fernet at key points throughout your meal is a surefire way to keep you eating for hours on end, but for the bitter tasters among us, Fernet can be a bit much. Hailing from Sicily, Averna is much sweeter than its northern cousin.

When it’s time for a post-dinner cocktail, try this creation by the amaro-minded Joy Richard, a.k.a. Bourbon Belle. When designing the bar for The Citizen, she finagled a way to have Fernet on tap. Now that’s a bitter kind of love.


1.5 oz Punt e mes
.75 Falanghina Grappa
.5 oz averna
3 dashes ango orange
Stir, strain, grapefruit



The first annual Glovebox Fundraiser for the Arts at West End Johnnies features both specialty cocktails and a silent auction, so you’ll have something quality to sip on as you stare down potential bidders.

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by Pinky Gonzales

Ada Coleman, American Bar, London

Hanky-Panky (n. slang)

Various definitions from the Oxford English to the American Heritage Dictionaries include “questionable or underhanded activity”, “sexual dalliance”, “trickery, double-dealings”, shenanigans”, “hocus-pocus”.

I like the Hanky-Panky. It’s got a great backstory, mysterious etymology, association with our president (LUPEC Boston’s that is, not the doofball in D.C.), and is simply a fine cocktail, back from the brink of extinction.

First of all, our own “Hanky Panky” (her LUPEC alias) has turned another year older this week, so from all of us, HP: Happy Birthday! And while she may be down in NYC engaging in first-class shenanigans, here at the blog we’re spinning old records, nibbling groovy party snacks, and meditating on the origins of the following drink (whip one up & join us):

Hanky-Panky (the original, from the Savoy Cocktail Book)

2 Dashes Fernet Branca
1/2 Italian Vermouth
1/2 Dry Gin
Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. Squeeze orange peel on top.

or, two:

Hanky-Panky (recipe courtesy of John Gertsen)

1/4 oz. Fernet Branca
1 oz. Cinzano Rosso
2 oz. Beefeater Gin

Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Squeeze the oil from an orange peel on top.

The drink, created in the 1920’s, is a variation on the original (sweet) Martini. It nicely utilizes the herbalicious Italian liqueur Fernet Branca. In spirit, it reminds me of another punchy drink with a potentially-overwhelming-but-not herbal liqueur element, the Alaska, made with Chartreuse.

According to it’s word origins at mindlesscrap.com , “About 150 years ago, British master magicians used to swing handkerchiefs with one hand to keep viewers from noticing what they were doing with the other. This practice was so common that the use of a hanky came to be associated with any clandestine or sneaky activity. It’s thought that since magicians used the words hocus-pocus, a rhyming word was added to give it pizzazz.

Who created the Hanky Panky? The first head barman at the famed American Bar in London, who happened to be a broad named Ada Coleman. As the story goes, “Coley”, a mixologist of reputable character who could trash-talk with the best of them, invented the drink for a colorful bar regular. Coleman spoke of it herself, to a London newspaper in 1925:

The late Charles Hawtrey … was one of the best judges of cocktails that I knew. Some years ago, when he was overworking, he used to come into the bar and say, ‘Coley, I am tired. Give me something with a bit of punch in it.’ It was for him that I spent hours experimenting until I had invented a new cocktail. The next time he came in, I told him I had a new drink for him. He sipped it, and, draining the glass, he said, ‘By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!’ And Hanky-Panky it has been called ever since.

Coleman worked at the American Bar at the swank Savoy Hotel from 1903-1926, during the cocktail’s coming-out era in Europe. Owners renamed their establishments “American Bars” as a selling point – a way of distinguishing them from mere pubs or gin-&-tonic joints. The American craft of mixing up Sazeracs, Martinis, Ramos Gin Fizzes and the like became all the rage. Coleman’s barstools saw the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, WC Fields, Prince of Wales, and Mark Twain. I wonder if Twain was sitting at Ada’s bar when he wrote: “The cheapest and easiest way to become an influential man and be looked up to by the community at large was to stand behind a bar, wear a cluster diamond pin, and sell whiskey. I am not sure but that the saloon-keeper held a shade higher rank than any other member of society.”

Bartender Harry Craddock filled Ada’s role managing the bar in 1924, after he had left dry America for work abroad. In 1930, he published “The Savoy Cocktail Book”, an Art Deco gem & many a bartender’s Bible. In it, for the first time is the printed recipe for the Hanky-Panky.

And speaking of Bibles, check out this theory on the origin of the term hanky-panky:

“It’s been plausibly suggested that hocus-pocus is a corruption of the genuine Latin words hoc est enim corpus meum, “for this is my body,” spoken during the consecration of the Roman Catholic Mass when the wine and wafer are said to be transformed into the body and blood of Christ. Some experts, presumably non-Catholic, think hocus-pocus itself was then corrupted into the word hoax.” (Cecil Adams, from The Straight Dope)

The Catholic Church, hocus-pocus. Ada Coleman, Hanky Panky. Shenanigans. I’ll drink to that.

Hanky Panky, a.k.a. Misty Kalkofen, Head Barman at Green Street, Cambridge MA
(Photo courteousy of Matt Demers)

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