What do you do when you’ve been drinking all day, trying to be careful, yet it happens. What happens? You didn’t drink enough water or you switched from Ramos Gin Fizzes to Rum Punch to Milk Punch to Mint Juleps (they look so delicious!) to some really old Cognac to some Sake? Well I only took small sips!
It’s the small sips that get you when you’re down at Tales of the Cocktail. What is Tales of the Cocktail? It’s one of a kind. Founded by my friend Ann Tuennerman. There are plenty of cocktail friendly cities in this great land of ours, but no event is as comprehensive and as carefully designed as Tales. Please don’t get me wrong. I love to just zip into Manhattan for the Cocktail Classic. I had a fantastic time and met new people who have enriched my life. But what happens at Tales is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Sure I attended WSWA this year with all the revelry that time and money can produce. Hey, it’s the liquor business!
1. Fernet Branca. You’ll see it everywhere during Tales. Take my advice and get to like the flavor. Sure it is assertive. That’s part of the charm. In my upcoming book- Apothecary Cocktails, Restoratives from Yesterday and Today, I cannot stress enough to you the healing properties of Fernet Branca. There are dozens of herbs in each sip you must not over-intellectualize Fernet otherwise you’ll over think the charm in each sip. No, it’s not spicy like some Italian digestives. But this one packs a punch at 40% alcohol. The kids like to drink it frozen through an ice luge. I prefer to sip it neat, or mix it into a glass of CANE SUGAR cola. With lots of ice is restoration enough. There are flavors of toasted nuts, menthol and dark chocolate in each sip. The nose is mint, earth and wet stones. You could say that I love Fernet for the aromatic qualities… That’s only half of it. I like how it makes me feel better when I’ve had too much the night prior.
2. Branca Menta. If you find the assertive flavor of the Fernet-Branca a bit too strong, maybe the Menta would be more your style? Woven into a core of fresh mint, the Menta Branca is marvelous with a glass of Seltzer Water. Take your pick on brands, what you need to do here is drink some down. You’ll feel better. I love the toasty quality of Branca Menta with notes of freshly picked tobacco and bittersweet chocolate, this digestive is just the thing for what bit you.
3. Cynar. Marvelous stuff. Made from artichokes. It’s lush and gorgeous in the glass. There is an underlying flavor of the artichoke along with wet stones and dark loamy soil. They use caramel coloring like so many others in this genre, but that shouldn’t stop you from discovering further flavors of dark chocolate and toasted nuts. I think if you have a hangover this stuff should make you feel better in a hurry. Sometimes people open a can of warm cola and pour that over their heads while sipping tiny sips of Cynar in a mute protest against their temporary sickness.
4. Underberg. I’m bringing many bottles of this German elixir with me. It’s marked right on the label: “After a good meal” and they are correct. If there is anything in my arsenal of curatives for a hangover, this along with Fernet Branca just says heal me. Of course a nice greasy breakfast at the Clover won’t hurt!
5. This morning I received a couple new bottles of restoratives.. Powerful restoratives. The first one is named Fernet-Vallet. The back story goes to France where a certain gentleman fell out of favor with the landed gentry. They wanted him to seek his fortune elsewhere so he settled in Mexico. The climate agreed with this gentleman so he stayed and developed very European spirits with New World ingredients. Old World meets New World. Fernet-Vallet is a French recipe for the Italian spirit of the same name. This is a traditional 19th century aperitif (I call it a digestive) and it almost tastes like the Fernet-Branca from Italy. This is meant as a great compliment! Fernet- Vallet is lush, thick, mouth-coating and very healing. It almost tastes like Angostura Bitters! The second restorative is named Amargo-Vallet. The label reads Bitters made with Bark of Angostura. Hmmm wonder if this would work on a hangover? Angostura Bitters do!
Where Fernet-Branca and Fernet-Vallet are both 80 Proof, Amargo-Vallet is 90 Proof! That extra 10% alcohol makes all the difference.
I’d add 2 ounces to a tall glass of seltzer water and let the healing begin!
6. Angostura Bitters. Well this is a no-brainer. Angostura was originally invented to heal digestive tract disorders. Why shouldn’t it work on a hangover? It does? Yes my friends… It vanquishes them. You can even administer your Angostura by the teaspoonful or in a Pink Gin which is quite simply divine if you are feeling poorly. How do I make a Pink Gin? I use Barr Hill Gin from Vermont and add about 5 good slugs of Angostura to a frosty glass. Drink, repeat.. Drink, repeat. And so on.
Go ahead, if you have a tummy ache, try some in your soda water!
7. Basement Bitters from Tuthilltown Distillery in Gardiner, NY. Oh how I love Tuthilltown Rye. Their evocative Rye Whiskey is mixed with maple syrup, herbs, and spices. It is then aged in a barrel for a period of time until a balance of spicy to sweet becomes apparent. The Basement Bitters are a world class product. As an added benefit the Basement Bitters just happen to vanquish a hangover.
8. Curry Bitters from Bitter End in Santa Fe, NM. Don’t ask why they work in a glass of soda water, but they do. Curry Bitter dripped into some fizzy water and maybe some citrus.. Drink, repeat. Drink, repeat!
9. Hirschkuss. Ok, so they are new here in the United States. This is a most potent German digestive bitters that just happens to taste really delicious. I cannot say that about some of the other German digestives. They can be rather…Assertive. Hirschkuss is made from herbs, spices and other secret healing elements. Hangover begone!
Warren’s first book, Apothecary Cocktails is being published by Fair Winds Press in November 2013.
He has globally published over three hundred articles on everything from cocktail mixology to restaurant reviews.
He’s a former trained chef and former private banking executive assistant.
Warren is a bit more than an amateur bartender who believes that fresh juices and hand-cut ice are essential to a well crafted cocktail.
He also believes that Employees Only -GET’S IT– as far as using the best ingredients that are available.
If you don’t agree that fresh juices are essential, let’s talk about what you do now in your cocktails and why you should use the best ingredients!
See you at Tales!