I’ve never been one to hide my love for bitters and nothing is changing in 2015. In fact, I think my go-to-drink search has been heavily focused on finding the best bitters forward drink, and tonight, I think I’m one step closer. However, I’m warning you now, looking at the ingredients you may think I’ve lost my mind in 2015. I have not, and believe me this drink is the s#$t for a lack of a better description. Plus it mixes three of my alcohol favorites: bitters, bourbon and Fernet.
Now if you live in San Francisco, ordering Fernet is as common as ordering a shot of tequila as we consume 35% of the world’s Fernet. For the rest of you new to this Italian awesomeness, Fernet is a dark Italian type of amaro made from a number of herbs and spices and is one of the best spirits you’ve never heard of until today. Many compare it to drinking black-licorice flavored mouthwash, but I love it nonetheless and I can’t stand licorice.
That said I never would have considered mixing Fernet, bitters and bourbon if it had not been for one of my new favorite bartenders in San Francisco, Alec Barber Grossi. I met Alec, when he was bartending at Hard Water (aka a bourbon aficionado’s heaven), but now you can find him at Flora in Oakland. I knew I trusted his opinion when I asked for a Trinidad Sour and I didn’t have to explain it. (Insert the sound of angels singing in heaven)
Once I knew ordering a Trinidad Sour from Alec was like ordering a rum and coke, I decided to chummy up to him to learn what other bitters forward drinks he had up his sleeve. That’s when I discovered he previously worked at Cure, a famous bar in New Orleans, which is also where he created the Written Warning. As the story goes, he received a written warning for drinking on the job while in the midst of creating this drink. After trying the Written Warning, I think Alec deserved a medal, but then again I might be a bias, as I love this drink.
I know some of you still may be questioning my drinking taste or giving me some virtual side-eye looks, but the ingredients in the Written Warning truly do blend together smoothly creating an unique drink. I would even go as far to say people who don’t like Fernet should try this drink, as they will be pleasantly surprised on how much they’ll enjoy it.
In talking to Alec a bit more, he mentioned he had a few other drinks I should try so stay tuned for future recommendations from him. Until then, you have received a written warning to try this drink.
The Written Warning
1.5 oz Salmiakki Dala (that’s the awesome/weird/salted Swedish bitter)
0.5 oz Rittenhouse Rye whiskey
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice
0.5 oz demerara syrup (2:1 demerara sugar to water syrup)
Muddle three slices of cucumber in the bottom of the tin. Add all ingredients and ice, and shake vigorously for 20 seconds or until tins are quite cold to the touch. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice and garnish with a mint sprig and a cumber slice. Yum.
Note: Salmiakki Dala is a pain to track down, so use Fernet Branca, which is a lot easier to find, especially in San Francisco. If using Fernet Branca, add a healthy pinch of salt or two to the drink to get that salty weirdness. Simple syrup can be used in place of demerara syrup, although Alec states the body of the drink changes. If using a usual 1:1 simple syrup bump up the measurement to 0.75 oz of simple in the drink.