We've been itching to construct a drink that uses Brancamenta. It's not the easiest liqueur to mix—think Fernet-Branca with a little more sugar and a refreshing blast of peppermint. If you like Fernet, Brancamenta is an easy sipper, and if Fernet always seems too bitter or intense, Brancamenta will be far more approachable. The only problem is that not many cocktails are out there that use it.
Over the years, we've collected lots of notes and clippings of various recipes we use for inspiration. Today, we dug up something we captured off the pages of the Oregonian last year. Back in August, they ran a story about carbonated cocktails. Naturally, we filed away these details hoping to try a few of the featured recipes this summer. So, here we are looking at a drink created last year by Brandon Wise back when he was bar manager at Imperial. It's called The Lowcountry, and check out the list of ingredients: Ransom Old Tom Gin, lime, Fernet-Branca, mint syrup, ginger beer. Did you see it? Fernet and mint syrup? We definitely have have some inspiration coming on. . .
1.5 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
.75 oz Brancamenta
1 oz lime juice
.5 oz ginger syrup
1.5 oz sparkling water
Add the gin, Brancamenta, fresh lime juice and ginger syrup to a shaker with ice. Shake to chill, then strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with sparkling water and garnish with a sprig of mint.
Let's break it down. First, the gin is Ransom Old Tom. This is a unique gin that is made locally here in Sheridan, Oregon. Being a historic Old Tom style as opposed to a London Dry, it's a bit sweeter than other gins with delicious herb and spice overtones and a maltiness that comes from using barley distillate. Some people even describe a cardamon flavor in Ransom making it a unique choice (and one of our favorites) for the base spirit. This is not to say you can't substitute something else, but the setup here is already pretty unique, and you shouldn't have any problem finding other uses for this gin in other classic cocktails.
Wise's Lowcountry uses a combination of Fernet-Branca and mint syrup. It's as if the recipe is just begging us to try Brancamenta instead. It has lighter, less bitter flavors that make room for the built-in peppermint to assert some control. We suspect The Lowcountry uses spearmint-flavored syrup not peppermint which changes things a bit. It may not sound like a big deal, but for people who love mint, it's like subbing Altoids for Wint-O-Green Life Savers. It makes a difference, but it can still taste delicious.
Our last change simply swaps out ginger beer for our own homemade ginger syrup and seltzer. When we make homemade ginger beer a la minute, we always add a squeeze of lime, so the lime juice is tweaked slightly too. Depending on how you do the ginger beer, you may want to go lighter on the lime juice.
Garnish with a sprig of mint. Ideally, this should be fresh peppermint, but we didn't have any, and spearmint works just fine for the garnish. Overall, it's a success. Inspired by Brandon Wise's The Lowcountry, we decided our adjustments deserved a new name that is similar, but different enough to protect the innocent. Our Lowlands cocktail is over an ice shard which works nicely for long drinks. We love the refreshing flavors of this drink as we do with any ginger-seltzer recipe, but Ransom's complexity along with the familiar flavors of Fernet in the Brancamenta make this especially delicious on a hot summer day.