The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2015

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Page 78 of 140

78  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2015 Indeed, intense bitterness remains Fernet-Branca's defining characteristic. Michael says, "A lot of the time bitter has a negative connotation. For us as bartenders, it's not negative at all." But beyond the blusteringly bitter profile, Fernet-Branca distinguishes itself with profound complexity and compactness of flavor. It illustrates a vibrant tension between its savory, herbaceous core and an ethereal sweet mint lining. It tastes as if it comes directly from the pocket of some medieval apothecary, possessing primordial restorative power. Pesquera recalls, "I think for me it was the first amaro I ever fell in love with. It takes me back to when I first had it and all the things that were going on in my life . . . It transports you back into its heritage and makes you a part of it." Of course, there is truth behind Fernet-Branca's medicinal quali- ties. Traditionally served after the meal as a digestif, Fernet seems to aid digestion and alleviate the consequences of an overly indulgent evening. It's the perfect nightcap, and Gregg says he likes to "use Fernet as a friendly thank you to guests." But within the past several years, Fernet-Branca has taken on a new role behind the bar. Today, many of America's most innovative mixolo- gists incorporate Fernet-Branca into their cocktail recipes. Not surprisingly, Fernet-Branca often serves as an alternative for bitters. But the possibilities are limitless. Cadden explains, "As bartend- ers, over the past 15, we only had one bottle of bitters sitting on the shelves. But all of the sudden, we have this product called Fernet that has a lot more depth than just adding bitters." He goes on to praise Fernet-Branca for "its ability to hold up a cocktail. It doesn't get lost in a mixed drink. It stands its own and holds its ground." Robbie Gregg likes to blend Fernet-Branca with whiskey, or mind-driven sib- ling Brancamenta with cream and chocolate liqueur. Pesquera takes Maeve Pesquera, National Director of Wine and Beverage at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse. PHOTO COURTESY OF FLEMING'S PRIME STEAKHOUSE Pomace Digestif by Michael Cadden ◗ 1 oz. Fernet-Branca ◗ ¾ oz. Candolini Grappa Ruta ◗ ¾ oz. Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth ◗ ½ oz. fresh cranberry juice ◗ ½ oz. simple syrup ◗ Garnish with a lemon zest Mix all ingredients in a shaker, shake with fresh ice and strain into a cocktail coupe. Zest with a lemon.

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