Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Touch of citrus in stirred cocktails - Fernet Me Not & Mai 'Ti (+aside re salt)

I have to admit, I've recently become mildly obsessed with cocktails that use just a touch of citrus and are stirred rather than shaken. I think I was first led down this path by Rumdood's post on 'Ti punch, a deceptively simple and delicious cocktail that tilts a daiquiri's proportions to let the rum (or Rhum Agricole to be precise) take and hold center stage. I still can't believe I had not tried that drink until I saw his post, but it has quickly become a staple.

When I say a touch of citrus, I'm referring to drinks which contain at most around ¼ oz total of citrus juices, but could use half that, perhaps only a teaspoon, or even just a few drops. Just enough to offset a bit of sweetness or brighten up a drink's flavor profile. (Not to mention part of the beauty of these drinks is how simple they can be to make, with less equipment to clean up later. Glass, ice, maybe a spoon, done.)

I was led further down this particular rabbit hole after sampling a couple drinks from the excellent book beta cocktails, which I first read about via Robert Simonson's blog Off the Presses. There he describes amari and bitters heavy cocktails, including the book's Campari Martini, composed of just Campari, salt, and an orange twist. It should be obvious how amari, bitters and salt led me to immediately buy the book (info here, or store here.) For a sneak peek, check out the 2 oz of Peychaud's in the Gunshop Fizz or the fantastic Angostura Sour, or a few more from Cocktail Virgin Slut. Then go buy the book.
As an aside, I have been meaning to do a post on salt in cocktails but never got around to it, but do read the post by Maks on the Campari Martini : Salt, for he did a better job than I ever would have. I've been occasionally adding salt to cocktails since at least 2009 after I learned the trick from Dave Arnold at a FCI holiday cocktail class I attended, though my usages were limited to drinks containing more citrus and not as ballsy (or illuminating) as the Campari trick. But suffice it to say a pinch of salt can do wonders for a cocktail. You can also refer to Alton Brown's "Ballad of Salty and Sweet" if you need more convincing.
 Ok, enough commentary, on to some drinks. Last week theme for TDN was "Rick Stutz Dance Party", check out the Mixoloseum wrap up for an explanation and some of the night's drink's. In trying to come up with a drink using Rick's favorite ingredients, Fernet was the obvious choice. With that in mind, and having recently enjoyed beta cocktails' Bitter Giuseppe which uses a slug of Cynar and "11-15 drops of lemon juice", I set to work. While in Buenos Aries, I had liked the pairing of Fernet with tonic and Orange Juice so I went with a touch of orange juice with the expressed oil and orange bitters.
Fernet Me Not
  • 1½ oz Fernet Branca
  • ½ oz Bourbon (Bulleit)
  • ½ oz Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash Regan's Orange bitters #6
  • Orange twist w/ a bit of flesh
Express oil & squeeze juice (~tsp or less) from Orange piece; Build in DOF over large rock & use orange twist as garnish
I threw in some Bourbon just to smooth out and lengthen the drink and to help tame the Fernet somewhat, but it's still all about the Fernet; the bourbon is hard to pick out but that is by design. Frederic astutely compared it to an "inverse Fanciulli Cocktail with orange notes", which I had to look up, but in this case the drink was based on beta's Bitter Giuseppe.

My second drink would perhaps have been better suited for a Rumdood themed TDN, but I had beta's inspiration and a touch of citrus on my mind, so I made this mash up of a Mai tai, 'Ti punch, and the Art of Choke from beta cocktails. The Art of Choke is cocktail by Kyle Davidson from The Violet Hour in Chicago, another Cynar cocktail; a cocktail which beta's authors call "a brand new cocktail template." Starting from that template, I kept the Chartreuse and mint, but to capture the spirit of the Mai Tai I subbed Amaro Montenegro for Cynar, orgeat for demerara, and two aged rums for white rum, then played with the proportions and added angostura for the hell of it (perhaps because Cynar is far more bitter than Montenegro?) My thinking was that the Montenegro's orange notes would stand in well for the orange from the Mai Tai's Creole Shrubb.
mai 'ti
  • ¾ oz Rhum Clément VSOP
  • ¾ oz Appleton Extra 12
  • 1 oz Amaro Montenegro
  • ¼ oz Green Chartreuse
  • tsp lime
  • tsp B.G. Reynolds orgeat
  • dash Angostura bitters
  • mint
muddle mint with bitters, orgeat, and lime, add rest then stir & strain into DOF with one large rock; mint sprig garnish
The mai 'ti lands sufficiently far from the inspiring drinks to be its own beast. It has the feel of a 'Ti Punch, the background flavor of a Mai Tai, with bitter and herbal flavors layered on top. Give 'em both a try and let me know what you think. Enjoy!


  1. Love the smidgen of citrus. Baker's Hallelujah is fun to play with:


  2. Mmm, looks good, I'll have to give that one a try.



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