Thursday, May 19, 2011

What We're Drinking: The Toronto

The Toronto Cocktail
Sometimes there is a gem of a drink hidden in plain site. In my eyes, the Toronto Cocktail is a friggin' lost diamond! Rye. Fernet Branca. Sugar. Bitters. It does not get any more simple than that with cocktail ingredients.

Some background: David Embury's presents this cocktail as a variation of the Old Fashioned in his  The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948).  However, I prefer the Toronto served up with an orange peel.

This libation unites two of my favorite spirits - rye whiskey and Fernet Branca into a well balanced and strong pick me up. Embury's recipe has Canadian whiskey which makes sense given that American Rye production had been decimated by Prohibition and well, the drink is named after Canada's largest metropolis. However,  I recommend using a full bodied robust American Rye like Rittenhouse 100 Bonded Rye which will stand up to Fernet's bold medicinal flavor, but does not overwhelm the drink. In fact, I increased the proportion of Fernet to 1/2 oz to balance Rittenhouse's strength.

Building the drink: Start with reliable Angostura bitters and simple syrup in a mixing glass, then add the liquor. Lower a few lumps of cracked ice into the glass and stir rigorously for 20 seconds. Once you strain into a chilled cocktail glass, hold a match under a freshly cut orange peel and ignite the oils over the drink.
Toronto Cocktail
2 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey (we used Rittenhouse 100)
1/4 oz Fernet Branca (or amp it up to a full 1/2 oz)
1/4 oz simple syrup
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Orange twist

Tools: Mixing glass, Bar spoon, Hawthorne strainer, pairing knife, coupe glass

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and add cracked ice. Stir mixture until ice cold and then strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with burnt orange twist.
Where to get it: Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; it is not on their spirits menu but they roll one upon request.

Variations:  King Cole Cocktail (2 oz Bourbon, 1/2 oz Fernet Branca, 1/4 oz simple syrup, dash of Angostura, orange twist). 

298 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211

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