Toronto Cocktail

Taking Murray’s suggestion from the comments on the Hanky Panky yesterday, we decided to continue at full speed past the Branca Barrier. The Toronto Cocktail, from The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, David A. Embury’s classic cocktail tome from 1948, was the choice and as it was Wes’ turn to mix last night, I passed the recipe on to him. Since he thoguht that Embury’s rather large proportions might make too big a drink (and after a long day at work, who wants to do math?), he decided to check a recipe on

Toronto Cocktail
( version)

2 ounces rye whiskey.
1/4 ounce Fernet Branca.
1/4 teaspoon sugar.
1 dash Angostura bitters.

Stir with ice in a mixing glass for at least 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add an orange slice garnish.

*sip* … hey, it’s pretty good. I kinda like this. The medicinal quality is there, more there than it was in the Hanky Panky, but it wasn’t smacking me across the face, it was waving at me from the other side of the creek. It’s quite an eye-opener, though, as it’s really really dry. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course; I do like dry cocktails as compared to really sweet ones. But maybe this one could be a little less dry. “I don’t think there’s enough sugar,” Wes agreed. “I’d go with a whole teaspoon next time.” We did enjoy the drinks, though, but we certainly want to try the other version.

In Embury’s book the Toronto is listed among the “Whiskey Cocktails of the Aromatic Type,” along with the Old Fashioned, and is actually described as “a modified Old-Fashioned.” The first recommendation is to serve it with ice in an Old-Fashioned glass, with stir-and-strain as the second. I think next time we make this it’ll be with the original Embury proportions (although not his exact recipe; we’ll continue with Murray’s recommendation of our beloved Rittenhouse 100-proof rye instead of the Canadian).

Toronto Cocktail
(David Embury recipe with Murray Stenson’s variation)

3 ounces Rittenhouse 100-proof rye whiskey.
1 ounce Fernet Branca.
1/2 ounce simple syrup.
1 dash Angostura bitters (optional).

Build with ice in an Old-Fashioned glass and stir until the sides of the glass are frosty. Garnish with a curly strip of orange peel.

I’m also thinking of a variation that’ll hearken back to my medicinal use of Branca, in hot water with honey — maybe we’ll see how it tastes with honey syrup (as long as drinking this drink doesn’t make me think of being sick to my stomach).