Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking


Nature is sometimes not without a sense of humor, or at least it appears that way when you consider the fact that citrus reaches its peak during the cooler months of the year. You might argue that the ideal time for lemonade or a refreshing Margarita comes during the hot summer months, but as far as the fruit is concerned, availability doesn’t always represent quality. The best examples appear in October, November and so on. Refreshing sours are delicious when you are trying to beat the heat, but citrus season is just getting started when many of us would rather settle into a dark flavorful sipper to take the edge off a cool autumn breeze.

We tend to keep an eye out for white grapefruit when browsing the produce aisles of the supermarket. While the sweeter ruby variety is usually available year-round, the white tends to be harder to find. It has a drier flavor with a bitter intensity that works wonders in the right cocktail. Yesterday, we finally spotted the object of our affection and grabbed some. The only challenge was finding the right recipe. There are many tiki cocktails that specifically call for white grapefruit, although we haven’t posted many. But, after two weeks of daily rain, it’s hard to feel enthusiastic about anything tropical.

Then, we remembered the Edgewood cocktail we posted last year which inspired great conversation and some experimentation with unlikely ingredients. We decided it’s finally time to bring some attention to an original cocktail we invented last September.

1.5 oz gin
1 oz grapefruit juice
.5 oz Fernet Branca
.5 oz St-Germain
Pinch sea salt

Add everything to a cocktail shaker. Shake with plenty of ice, then strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a fat twist of grapefruit oil and discard the peel.

If you are looking for a town called Fernelderwood, or a neighborhood in Brooklyn, don’t bother. The name has nothing to do with ferns, old trees or any specific location on earth. It’s a not-so-clever portmanteau of Fernet and elderflower, a mashup designed to represent Fernet Branca and St-Germain in a drink that is supposed to resemble the Edgewood cocktail. Sure, it’s a silly name—that much we can admit. But, in our defense, when we first described this combination we were half joking. It’s an unlikely pairing of two ingredients on opposite sides of the flavor spectrum. Yet, somehow, it seems to be working in this drink, united by a wonderful blend of citrus and botanicals.

As we have described in the past, Fernet Branca is an intensely bitter Italian amaro capable of curing an upset stomach while reminding you of cough drops and ancient medicine. St-Germain, on the other hand, is a floral, deliciously sweet elixir. Each has been accused of overtaking recipes, so putting them both into the same shaker for the first time must be accompanied by a “why the hell not?” or a “what’s the worst thing that can happen?” attitude. Success, in our estimation, is a result of the other ingredients.

We already know gin can do wonders, promoting flavors that might otherwise fall flat on their own. We used Plymouth in our rendition, but the seasonal hero in this drink is the white grapefruit. Just an ounce of juice is enough to take the edge off the spirit and tie into its citrus aspects, anchoring itself beside the floral sweetness of the St-Germain while reaching out to the bitter world of Fernet to offer a hand of friendship. Only grapefruit can pull off such diplomatic sincerity. A goodly squeeze of the peel sending oils onto the surface and rimming the glass will have you smelling the cocktail long before it reaches your lips. The pinch of salt may seem like a holdover from the Edgewood, but we think it adds just the right seasoning to support the bridged flavors present in this drink.

Give the Fernelderwood a chance to impress you. Maybe even let it inspire your imagination to come up with a better name for the drink! Ours is shown perched upon on the deco stem of another lovely vintage coupe.

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11 years ago

Hi ! I have a question regarding Fernet Branca Mint, and wonder if you have ever tried it ? There is also a Ramazzotti Mint. Which would you try first? Anyone who has any experiences with any of them ?

Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson
Reply to  Paul
11 years ago

Paul, I haven’t tried it. If you do, let us know what you think.