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rammazzitti/fernet branca - digestifs

This board got me interested in sipping digestifs and these were amongst the recommended and considered very different... very different indeed.

I liked Rammazzitti enough. It's okay. I got used to it and it's fairly inexpensive. I drank it neat. Fernet... well, this board kind of laid down the ground work for Fernet in saying it's a aquired taste. It was like drinking Nyquil. Two very different tastes. I can't believe it's the drink of choice for NYC bartenders to sip.

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  1. Personally, I find them all too sweet to sip neat. Try a nice drink with just a little Fernet, like the Hanky Panky. Eventually the menthol will be less shocking. There are a fair number of Fernet recipes in Kindred Cocktails -- 25 as of now. Try a Sloppy Possum from Lord Hobo in Cambridge, MA. If you like Islay, I love the Bernet Frankenstain from, well, me. ;-)

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    25 Replies
    1. re: EvergreenDan

      I just brought a bottle of Fernet back from a visit to PA for Thanksgiving - did a search here to see what the heck to do with it - found this thread and made the BF. All I can say is wow - there is a lot going on here - an alternate name could be "palate wrecker cubed", as any of the 3 liquors alone is enough to leave your taste buds reeling - and I mean that in the nicest way as I love Laphroaig and quite like Punt e mes, the fernet might take a little getting used to.

      1. re: ncyankee101

        You're welcome. I think. Tee hee hee.

        There seem to be two ways to use uber-powerful ingredients: a) Use a tiny amount to "tint" a cocktail or b) combine with other huge flavors so that they can stand up as peers. The classic 1925-era Hanky Panky takes the former route. I took the later in the Bernet Frankenstein. While it is certainly an acquired taste, it is one of my most favorite cocktails of my own creation. And because it is served neat, it functions at times where otherwise I would simply sip a scotch, cognac, rye, or fine rum.

        I don't usually care for the middle ground -- a cocktail with one strong ingredient dominating the other more subtle ingredients (particularly expensive ones). Kick on someone your own size ;)

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        1. re: EvergreenDan

          A little while back I saw an article with some drinks using 1-1.5 oz Angostura bitters as the primary ingredient - one was a mai tai variant, another a Manhattan variant IIRC. I made them and they were - well - interesting is a word. Not sure I would drink them on any kind of regular basis but it was worth it to try once. Not often you use up most of a 4 oz bottle of Angostura in one evening.

          1. re: ncyankee101

            The Trinidad Sour (Angostura, lemon, orgeat, rye) might be what you were thinking of. It uses a full oz of Angostura. If you haven't tried it, it's a great drink. Angostura is mild enough that it comes across more as really spicy than anything else. I'm with you on using up the bitters, though. Next time I'm getting the big-boy bottle.

            BTW, at 44% ABV and reasonably priced per ounce, Angostura isn't the craziest ingredient to use as a base for a cocktail. I've shied away from trying other bitters in as large quantities. I used 1/4oz of Bittermen's Xocolatl Mole bitters in my Mole Hill -- an amount that was about as much flavor as the drink could take and about as much expense as my wallet could take.

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            1. re: EvergreenDan

              I had thought about that, the best price I have seen on Angostura bitters is $4.88 at walmart which works out to around $30 a fifth. Not dirt cheap but not more than most other decent quality liquors.

              1. re: ncyankee101

                Sometimes you can find 16oz bottles of it and, on occasion, they'll be priced quite well. I got my current bottle at a local liquor store for $11.99. Nice and dusty on the outside, which I assume is why it was priced so well. That works out to around $19 a fifth... I should have bought a few more bottles.

                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                  Yeah that was a great price, a google search shows the 16 oz bottle normally goes around $19.

          2. re: EvergreenDan

            Maybe a dumb question but - how do you get dashes from a 750 ml bottle, lacking en eye dropper?

              1. re: ncyankee101

                Agreed.

                In developing the measurements page for Kindred Cocktails, I did some research both on line and in the kitchen with a dasher bottle. There is no good standard for a dash, so I picked a median-type number: about 1/4 tsp, or about 1ml. I suggest pouring out of your big bottle NOT over the drink. It's even harder from an opaque bottle.

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                1. re: EvergreenDan

                  I have had trouble finding consistent standards even for a teaspoon - most agree it is 1/6 oz but I have also seen 1/8 oz on more than one site. And I have seen anywhere from 30 to 60 drops per teaspoon - and 4-5 drops per dash.

                  Your 1 ml = 1/30 oz is pretty close to a 5 drop dash based on 30 drops per tsp.

                  1. re: ncyankee101

                    1/8oz for a teaspoon is either an unintentional error or an attempt to simplify recipes. It is well established in the cooking world that 3 tsp = 1 Tbsp and 2 Tbsp = 1 oz.

                    These measurements are a bit confusing to those not accustomed to them. I often see recipes where the conversion weren't considered, such as 1/4 oz of this plus 1 1/2 tsp of that (which of course are the same amount).

                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                      I know it wasn't an unintentional error as one site actually had a conversion chart that said 1/6-1/8 oz for a teaspoon - like you said it was probably just an effort to simplify conversion but the math doesn't seem all that difficult to begin with. Maybe it was originally an error that went viral?

                      Edit - ok I just found a conversion site that says 1 UK tsp is .12 US ounce, or very close to 1/8. Those crazy Brits.

                      OK in a similar vein - which weighs more a pound of gold or a pound of feathers?

                        1. re: ncyankee101

                          Since gold is weighed using troy, my educated guess is a pound of feathers weigh more ....

                          1. re: hawkeyeui93

                            Right on. A little tricky because 1 Troy oz = 1.08 English - so you have to know there are only 12 oz in a Troy lb.

                            Another question - what is the Easternmost state in the US?

                                  1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                    Right on - the Aleutians extend beyond the date line into the eastern hemisphere.

              2. re: EvergreenDan

                Hey Dan - I finally got hold of a bottle of St Liz Allspice, which I have heard plays well with whisk(e)y - it seems like the kind of potent liqueur that might be incorporated into a drink like the Bernet Frankenstein - any thoughts? Maybe just adding it as an equal fourth component?

                1. re: ncyankee101

                  It plays nicely with both whiskeys and rums. Perhaps brandy too, although I don't recall having tried that. But anyway, I think it would be tough to use more than a smallish amount in most drinks.

                  Here's an interesting drink that takes things in a different direction, combining it with an entire ounce of absinthe:

                  "dead man's mule

                  1 oz Orgeat
                  1 oz K├╝bler Absinthe
                  1/2 oz St. Elizabeth's Allspice Dram
                  1/2 of a Lime (in wedges)

                  Muddle lime wedges in the bottom of a copper mug. Add rest of ingredients, fill with crushed ice, and top with ginger beer. Add straws."

                  Recipe taken from Yarm's blog: http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/20...

                  1. re: ncyankee101

                    No reason not to try, but between the smoke, bitter complexity of the Punt e Mes and the menthol of the Fernet, it doesn't seem too promising to me. As DSP says, it is very strong, and a small amount adds nice spice when a drink seems one-note. I'd try something like a 1/2 tsp first until it appears in the background. Let us know how it works!

                    It reminds me of Nocino, so you might try some of those recipes, but will less Allspice Dram as it is spicier than the Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur / Nocino.

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                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                      Well I tried a variation of this - I ended up subbing the St Liz for half of the fernet. It actually added some interesting spiciness to the drink (especially in the nose which was just wonderful) but it perhaps made the drink just a little too - uhh - busy? (for lack of a better word). It is rather enjoyable, but not sure if it is an improvement on the original. (I actually have been using Laphroaig 10 yr not the QC because I can't easily replace what is left of my QC at a decent price.)

                      Even cut in half the menthol in the Fernet was still quite assertive. I can only imagine what Branca Menta must taste like.

                      1. re: ncyankee101

                        Branca Menta is actually rather easygoing compared with Fernet Branca. It's heavily minty, but doesn't have much of the bitterness that comes with the Fernet. I think you could even sub it for creme de menthe in a lot of drinks if you didn't care about the color.