Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fanciulli Cocktail

STANLEY: Liquor goes fast in hot weather. Have a shot?
BLANCHE: No—I—rarely touch it.
STANLEY: Some people rarely touch it, but it touches them often.
—Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

By 7 o’clock this morning, it was already unusually warm in San Francisco. A hot day here is something of an occasion, whether you like it or you don’t. Streets and sidewalk cafés fill with semi-clad people. For the thirsty who would prefer an unsweetened iced coffee to a soda in such weather, there is the Fanciulli. It’s a refreshingly bitter frappé of bourbon, sweet vermouth and Fernet-Branca, and a potent aid in reviving the wilted. This drink is named for an Italian-American band leader and composer of marches and operas. You can read more about him and the Fanciulli in the WSJ and from Kevin Patterson. The version of the drink here is from the CocktailDB.

In a glass packed with crushed ice, build:
  • 1 oz bourbon (Wild Turkey 101)
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (Punt e Mes)
  • 1/4 oz Fernet-Branca
Serve in a cocktail glass. (Used a 4.5 oz old fashioned.)


  1. I found this refreshing, but a little too florally herbal for bourbon drink to my liking. Perhaps some bitters?

  2. I think that’s that first time I’ve heard someone say that a drink with Fernet in it should be more bitter instead of less. But maybe that’s not what you mean. Fernet has some menthol, which you might not care for—at least with those Manhattan-type ingredients, anyway.

    My main issue with this recipe is that it makes a rather light cocktail. (Only one ounce of liquor?) But with the crushed ice, it’s fun on a hot day, and you can have several of them.

  3. It WAS the menthol that I tasted. Mmm, that beachy taste, just like a Newport.

  4. I actually created a drink for myself a while back, and it's very similar to this. It uses more bourbon and swaps the sweet vermouth for a combo of dry vermouth and Heering (or preferably a dry cherry brandy). I think I'm calling it the Old Knoxville. I'll eventually post about it.


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