The seasons turn and with them so do the cocktail ingredients and the styles of drink that dominate bars. Imbibe called on bartenders from four top London bars to each team up with a brand and create an autumnal serve with comforting notes of spices and dried fruits, incorporating some fresher flavours to help the transition from the warmer months.
The bartenders were tasked with creating a serve that not only draws on autumn for inspiration, but also on the heritage of a particular cocktail ingredient, ending up with a broad international spread covering Greece, France, Italy and Japan. The drinks on the resulting bar tour spanned everything from stirred-down Martini twists to new takes on the beloved Espresso Martini, using ingredients including sorbets, ice creams, homemade liqueurs and reductions, and much more.
In part three of this cocktail challenge series, Imbibe visits Murder Inc...
BRAND: FERNET BRANCA
DRINK: AFFOGATO MAN
Garnish Edible flower
Method Shake and strain over a scoop of ice cream.
30ml Fernet Branca
30ml fig, walnut and chestnut liqueur*
Vanilla ice cream
*Combine crème de figue, chestnut liqueur, walnut essence, salt, tonka bean, golden syrup and agave syrup.
Next stop is Soho basement bar Murder Inc, the latest from the team behind Cocktail Trading Co.
Here, Andy Mil, armed with a bottle of Fernet Branca, takes us to Italy. To do this, he’s created an Affogato Martini twist that draws on the classic Espresso Martini spec, but brings various
autumnal flavours to bear too.
'Figs, walnuts and chestnuts are really popular around the autumn in Italy,’ he says. ‘You get a lot of fruit cakes and things like that as you come out of the summer.’ To bring these flavours to the drink, he has a homemade liqueur that takes the place of the coffee liqueur in the standard Espresso Martini. The other two core ingredients, Fernet Branca and espresso, are a tried-and-tested winning combination. These three components, in equal parts, are shaken and poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
'You know how Italians love their gelato... and the affogato is really Italian too,’ Mil explains. What’s noteworthy here is the full measure of Fernet – an ingredient that’s often used in smaller amounts in cocktails.
'I thought that if we’re making a Fernet drink, I may as well use a full ounce,’ he says. 'Also, bartenders tend to only stir Fernet down. You rarely see ingredients like citrus or dairy used with it.’
The result is a remarkably approachable cocktail, with the bitter, herbal flavours of Fernet complemented by the other components. 'It’s an entry-level Fernet drink. If you’ve not been introduced to it before, what better way than with ice cream?’ Mil comments 'That’s an accessible drink, with the flavours of the coffee and the Fernet really well integrated and strongly supported by the additional notes of nuts and figs,’ agrees Cawood.
'The menthol lightens it, but there’s still a bitter element,’ adds Milliken. 'And the ice cream really brings something to the drink too. I’d have this over a dessert.’
Also featured as part of the Harvest time cocktail challenge:
Stay tuned for more autumnal serves from the cocktail challenge coming soon on imbibe.com