For those about to get bitter, we salute you!

The last carrot cakes are out of the oven, and its time to kick back with a cocktail! Well technically a highball!

If you love +Fernet Branca, you may already know that it pairs brilliantly with the flavours of ginger and vanilla!  Fernet Branca and Cola is a staple beverage in many bars, but I also really enjoy the simplicity of Fernet Branca and Ginger Beer (the spicier, the better!).  As with any highball, build this one in the glass, over ice.

1 oz. Fernet Branca (increase to 1 1/2 oz if you are an afficionado)
5-6 oz. Ginger Beer

Stir and enjoy.  Garnish with a lime wedge if you must.

#cocktail   #fernetbranca   #highball   #housemade  

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Ladies Choice cocktail

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of presenting a session about food at YoUnlimited,  a local women’s conference here in Victoria.

The day was filled with presentations and panels all touching on various aspects of mind/body/soul, and was a great opportunity to connect with other women I normally only get to see in passing, or wave at via social media.

The evening prior, Carolyne Taylor, YoUnlimited’s founder, teamed up with the Seaside Times to run a Women in Business Mixer to help celebrate their most recent issue highlighting some of the great work that women entrepreneurs on the Penninsula are doing!  I have to say, Sidney is bursting with business activity — certainly not the sleepy little town I remember growing up here!

I was asked to create a cocktail to commemorate the weekend.  One of the ingredients I was hoping to showcase were the herbal teas produced by Lily Fawn, of Earth’s Herbal.   I’ve used her Root Beer tea in this cocktail, and it really does taste like root beer — all the herbs, spices and roots I put in my own root beer!  (I may be using it in my next root-beer batch – I’ll let you know it goes!).

I’ve called this cocktail “Ladies Choice”, in part to recognize the women building community here in Victoria, BUT also because I went with Forty Creek whisky as the base spirit — a whisky that distiller John Hall has said he created with his wife’s palate in mind. I also added ginger syrup, and a splash of Fernet Branca.

Ladies Choice

created by Janice Mansfield, 2012

  • 45 ml Forty Creek whisky
  • 20 ml ginger syrup
  • 20 ml grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 5 ml Fernet Branca
  • 60 ml Earth’s Herbal Root Beer tea
  • 2-3 dashed grapefruit bitters

Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker.  Strain and serve straight up in a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a grapefruit twist and a piece of candied ginger.





MxMo LXIV (Tiki) The Misfits Cocktail

MxMo-Tiki-LogoIts the third week in February, and time for another MxMo!  This month, the ever-tiki-loving Pegu Doug is the host for the festivities, going all-out with a tiki makeover over on his blog!

The rules of MxMo LXIV are pretty straightforward: make it tiki, make it good! and do a little writeup about it!  So hang onto your hats, we have a surprise in store for you here!

If you've been following along here or over on Youtube, it was full-on Fernet Fever here in January for 30 Days of Fernet Branca!  While I've stopped taping nightly episodes,  I am still on the stuff (qualify that: went off for a week to determine if there was any difference, and then hopped back on the bandwagon to determine the longer-term effects of the daily dose).

This means Fernet Fever still has me in its herbacous grip, and I was determined to come up with a tiki drink that used at LEAST 1/2 oz.  I think we've done well here – I've managed to whip up something with a full 3/4 oz. and its pretty darn delicious if I do say so!

Having tasted many Fernet Branca concoctions through January, there were a few things I learned about pairing this stuff that I drew on while creating the perfect Fernet Combo!

  • Go big or go home with the Fernet:  It is a bully, and a whisper packs almost as much of a flavour whallop as a 1/2 oz., so just roll with it!
  • Fernet and ginger is a natural pairing!
  • Fernet and rum also play nicely, particularly rums with lots of vanilla notes (similar to cola!)

And so, without further ado, I present this month's MxMo beverage!

The Misfits

(Created by Janice Mansfield, 2012)

  • 3/4 oz. Fernet Branca
  • 3/4 oz. Jamaican rum
  • 1/2 oz. Orgeat
  • 1/2 oz. Ginger syrup
  • 1 oz Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. Lambs Navy 151

Combine everything except the Lambs Navy 151 in a cocktail shaker and shake to mix.  Strain into a highball glass or a tiki mug filled with crushed ice.  Float the 151 on the top.   Garnish with a Meyer lemon wheel with a cherry and a fresh ginger spear.  Serve with a straw.

The Kentucky Cloud

It’s 5 degrees C here, not 25 C, but for some reason, I’ve had summer-ey cocktails on the brain.  Thus, when a recent challenge arose to do something with bourbon, my mind naturally turned to sours … and fizzes (after all, a fizz is nothing more than a sour with bubbles!).  And from there, I began hankering for Ramos Gin Fizzes, but wanting something a little more seasonal than a fine gin, I started wondering why something similar hasn’t been done with whisky.

Bourbon and rye for some reason, tend to not dominate the summer drinks lists.  Yes, bourbon makes and appearance in the julep, but on the whole, it does not have that cross-seasonal appeal that rum commands.

In a different round of season-bending set of pairings, I’ve been looking for more winter-ey ways of using falernum (most recently in the Spiced Citrus Punch), and am pleasantly surprised with how nicely it plays with the spicier, warmer notes in both bourbon and rye whisky.

I’ve used Makers 46 for this drink — a spicier, slightly more belly-warming version of the classic Makers Mark, feeling the spicy notes in the falernum would be a nice complement.  The falernum has the spicy, hot notes from the ginger, and brightness from the lime, with deep allspice notes which round out the the cinnamon and nutmeg the Makers 46 gets from the French oak staves.  I immediately began thinking of ways of transforming this into something ethereal, and imagined using the same methods used to create the dreamy texture of the Ramos Gin Fizz (sans the dairy) … thus, the Kentucky Cloud was born!

A couple of notes:
  • I debated whether to stick with the classic addition of hydrosol, and opted to include rosewater — many of the flavour notes in bakalva (honey, nuts, cinnamon, allspice) are already present in Makers 46, so while it may seem an unusual addition to the mix, it provides an intriguing backnote.
  • If you are concerned about the use of unpasteurized egg white, you can use the bulk egg whites from the carton – about 3T worth.
  • Thanks to Shawn Soole of Clives Classic Lounge for the tip on using the ISI for the Ramos Gin Fizz!
The Kentucky Cloud
(created by Janice Mansfield, 2012)
  • 1 ½ oz. Makers 46
  • 1/2 oz. falernum
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 dashes rosewater
  • 1 egg white

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, shake with ice to chill and achieve dilution and begin to emulsify the egg white.

Add mixture to a in ISI dispenser.  charge with 1-2 chargers.  OR continue to shake in the cocktail shaker in classic Ramos Gin Fizz style (if you have guns like Ron Burgandy 😉 ).   Dispense into a highball glass.  Top with chilled ginger ale, stirring with a barspoon as you add the ginger ale.

Serve with a straw.

30 Days of Fernet Branca: An experiment in healthy living

Some of you are aware that my New Year started off with a challenge that is a bit of a departure from the usual resolutions.  I decided to take at least one shot of Fernet Branca per day for 30 days, and see whether it contributed to my overall health and wellbeing!

I'm documenting the progress through the 30 Days with a little video clip- usually taken at night as I take my daily dose (you can follow the fun over at my Youtube channel, and on twitter via the hashtag #fernetcure).

I'm finding it an interesting sociological excercise as well, as I try to describe to friends and random strangers just what I'm up to.  Reactions have ranged from "Cool!" to "what the heck is Fernet Branca?" to "WHY?", and a few headshakes that suggest folks secretly think I'm off my rocker.  And so I figured it was time for a quick blog post about why on earth I am doing  this!  

It began innocently enough, starting with … a conversation … at a bar!  

Actually, it was back in November, and I was talking with a few people, including Shawn Soole at Clives Classic Lounge about the mysteries behind herbal-based infusions.  And thus, the conversation naturally turned to Chartreuse and Fernet Branca!

The history of many of the alcoholic beverages we enjoy today have their roots as health tonics.  Juniper was originally added to gin, for instance, as a means of helping people feel better.  Chartreuse has 130 different herbs, spices and roots, most of which have medicinal properties, and Fernet Branca was available for consumption during Prohibition because it was considered a health tonic (marketed mainly to women at the turn of the Century as the Midol of the day).

I remember saying jokingly, that it might make an interesting experiment … to take a regular dose of said tonic, and see whether there was any different or not!  

Over the next couple of days, moving from the half-serious conversation to the practical, I began doing a bit of digging into some of the ingredients behind Fernet Branca, and discovered that many of the ingredients in it not only have digestive benefits, but are also powerful antioxidants, anti-spasmodics, anti-inflammatories, disinfectants … and the list goes on.  And so, I figured, ultimately it might be a little like going to an herbalist and walking away with beneficial herbal tincutures (which are often extracted using 80 proof alcohol), except that the kind folks at Fratelli Branca had done us the service of combining a number of these together! 

Thus, 30 Days of Fernet Branca was borne!  The rules are simple:

  • every day I will take at least one "dose" of Fernet Branca (a dose being the 2 cl. line on the official Ferent Branca shot glass!).
  • that dose may be consumed as a shot, but can also be incorporated into other forms (e.g. cocktails).
  • the dose cannot be cooked (e.g. downing a plateful of Fernet Branca marshmallows doesn't count).
  • every day I will capture the moment on film.
  • I will do my darndest to talk about something new about Fernet Branca each day.
  • These are quick one-take videos — no makeup, minimal lighting, so don't come expecting glamour shots 😉

I'd love it if you joined me (there are 15 days left!), or just follow along to see how things go!

Spiced Citrus Punch

Spiced Citrus Whisky Punch

(Janice Mansfield, 2011)

One glass A whole bunch of punch!
½ oz. falernum 225 ml falernum
½ oz. ginger syrup 225 ml ginger syrup
½ oz. freshly squeezed lemon 225 ml freshly squeezed lemon
½ oz. freshly squeezed orange 225 ml freshly squeezed orange
1 ½ oz. Rye whisky 450 ml Rye whisky
2 oz. brewed and cooled green or white tea 900 ml brewed and cooled green or white tea

Method:  One glass:
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake and strain into a chilled glass, garnish with an orange twist or an orange wedge studded with cloves.

Method: A whole bunch of punch!
Use a container or punch bow with at least 3 litre capacity.  Combine all ingredients and stir well to combine.  Add ice.  If you like your punch a little less strong (or a little more spicy!) add 1-2 cans (355 ml) of ginger beer and keep chilled with the biggest block of ice you can fit in the bowl.


Clives Classic Lounge (or the little Victoria cocktail bar that could!)

Those of you who know me well, know that I have a soft spot in my heart (and gullet!) for Clives Classic Lounge here in Victoria, BC.   Shawn Soole, the executive barkeep started with a vision of a world-class cocktail establishment when he came on board at the Chateau Victoria, and has worked tirelessly to set a standard of service and quality that quite frankly give many other places a pretty good run for their money — not just in Victoria, but across North America.


Several years ago here in Victoria, the notion of a cocktail culture was unthinkable — to the point where a well-crafted cocktail was best found in one’s home bar.  That has changed radically over the past 3 years with the efforts of people like Shawn Soole at Clive’s and Solomon Siegel at Veneto Lounge.

Its great to see such vision and hard work being recognized — Earlier the summer, Tales of Cocktail announced their nominations for their annual Spirited Awards, and Clives Classic Lounge was one of the nominees for World’s Best Hotel Bars — not only the only Canadian entry for the category, but the only Canadian entry for any of the Tales awards this year!  Tales of the Cocktail, taking place this week in New Orleans, began in 2006, and has been steadily growing to become one of the most significant annual cocktail events in the world.

Of course those of us who have been enjoying Shawn’s (and his bartending crew’s) creations have known all along that Clives is home to something world-class, but its great to see that hard work being recognized by his peers.  We’ll all be waiting with bated breath on July 23rd to hear the results!  Ramos Gin Fizz in hand!).

The Chartreuse Toddy (good for what ails!)

A conversation on twitter the other night, combined with the dip in ambient temperatures has got me thinking about those spirits that we consider "medicinal" and why we don't consider drinking them in hot form.   We all recongize the magical herbal powers of Fernet Branca, and talk in hushed tones about the mystical maceration of 130 herbs and spices in Green Chartreuse, but the default is to down a shot glass of it, much like medicine.  In fact, until recently, both Fernet Branca and Unicum (and for that matter even Jaegermeister) were available behind the counter at many pharmacies!

But to swig a shot is akin to taking the superhighway to one's destination, and missing the beauty of the scenic route!  Albeit it takes longer, but the surprises along the way more than make up for it.  I began to wonder why an ancient spirit such as Chartreuse has never been turned into a toddy — possibly one of the first "cocktail" incarnations ever invented.  Basic: spirit + sweet + warm non-alchohol base.  I've seen some combinations with hot chocolate, but that doesn't hold much appeal for me personally – I like Chartreuse, and feel the chocolate would overpower the herbal notes.

In the spirit of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" I'm keeping things simple here.  I love the herbal flavour of Chartreuse, and had just picked up a Tropical Lagoon (a white tea blend from Silk Road Tea) that I thought would be a perfect pairing.  A little lemon, a little honey or agave, and a knob of ginger, and you have a pretty tasty hot toddy!

Chartreuse Toddy

(Janice Mansfield, 2011)

  • 1 1/2 oz. Green Chartreuse
  • 1 tsp. honey or agave syrup
  • 2 quarter sized coins of ginger
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • 5-6 oz. hot tea (I used Silk Road Tropical Lagoon, but you can pick a nice green or white tea with citrus notes)

In a heatproof mixing glass, bruise the ginger, and add the honey or agave syrup.  Add the Green Chartreuse, and lemon juice, and then the hot tea, stirring briefly to mix. Let stand 1 minute, and strain into a warmed mug,  Float a lemon slice on top.


Caveat: recently, the ever-talented Bradford Knudson from Swing Wine Bar in Olympia, created the Hot Buttered Fernet — a hot bevvie of epic proportions!  A pot was regularly at the simmer through the cold days of last winter over at Clives Classic Lounge, and I may have enjoyed a few 😉 .

Disclaimer: I am considering going on a 30 days and nights of Chartreuse challenge in the new year, to see if the healing properties will be beneficial as a tonic, as some claim.  In this vein, I am determined to also come up with as many ways of consiming Chartreuse as possible.  Personally, I'm hoping for a more luxurious head of hair at the end of the month, but if it can help me feel as good as fussing about with an assortment of herbal tinctures, I say huzzah!!! 

MxMo LXIII: Mr. Wallbanger, I presume?

(originally published November 21, 2011)

It's MxMo Monday! and there has been a flurry of interest in retro cocktails of the tawdry sort!  Not the classics like the Martinez or the Sazerac, or even the Ramos Gin Fizz, but those tacky cocktails you remember your parents drinking too many of at pool parties, or the kind Annette Funicello would have imbibed in in a less wholesome version of  Beach Blanket Bingo!

Jacob Grier over at Liquidity Preference has also been giving this some serious thought, and is hosting this month's MxMo Monday, Retro Redemption.  In Jacob's words:

Contemporary cocktail enthusiasts take pride in resurrecting forgotten cocktails of the past — unless “the past” refers to the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s. We sometimes refer to these decades as the Dark Ages of Mixology, eras not yet recovered from the violence Prohibition and a World War inflicted on American cocktail culture. The classic Martini, a flavorful blend of gin and vermouth, had morphed into a glass of cold, diluted vodka. Other drinks were just too sweet, too fruity, too big, too silly.

But still, it wasn’t all bad. People ordered these drinks for a reason. Despite the now annual “burial” of a disfavored drink at Tales of the Cocktail, not all of them deserve to die. Perhaps, as they said of the Six Million Dollar Man, we can rebuild them. We have the technology. So the theme of this month’s Mixology Monday is Retro Redemption! Your task is to revive a drink from mixology’s lost decades. Perhaps you feel one of these drinks has a bad rap; tell us why it deserves another shot. Or maybe the original concoction just needs a little help from contemporary ingredients and techniques to make it in the big leagues. If so, tell us how to update it.

So we've been set to thinking about that classic from the 1970's the Harvey Wallbanger!  There must have been something redeeming about it (besides a name that elicits giggles), given the rather ambitious ad campaign rolled out by Galiano liqueur in the 1970's.  Then again, perhaps classic cheese remains just as cheesy today as it was in the 1970s!  Nonetheless, the Harvey Wallbanger became the cool cocktail of the decade, and fit the bill, in that it was similar enough to a Screwdriver (and therefore familiar to the waning palates of suburban America); used vodka, and didn't really taste like alcohol (therein allowing one to get everyone at the party tipsy before the real fun began!); AND it was a built drink, and therefore dead-easy to crank out large numbers.

We've set about to reinvent the Harvey Wallbanger here, with the idea that perhaps it is a drink misplaced in time!  After all, who doesn't love a nice pairing of citrus and vanilla!  With a titillating name, it almost begs to be a tiki-style drink, packing a bit more of a whallop than a standard highball. 

We've opted to keep the Galiano as the jumping off point (after all, it IS the signature ingredient here), but to reinforce the vanilla notes in all the other ingredients — swapping out vodka for the smoky vanilla notes of Anejo tequila, and pairing it with the softer citrus notes of pink grapefruit juice rather than orange.  As we went, we also felt it needed a little bit of a edge, so we amped things up a bit with some Aperol, a bit of vanilla syrup, and topped everything off with the smoky vanilla notes of Crema de Mezcal … Try it out!  We promise, you'll be steady on your feet 😉

Mr. Wallbanger, I presume?

(Created by Janice Mansfield, 2011)

  • 45 ml, tequila anejo
  • 15 ml Galiano liqueur
  • 15 ml Aperol
  • 10 ml vanilla syrup
  • 60 ml pink grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 2-3 dashes grapefruit bitters
  • 15 ml Crema de Mezcal

Combine tequiala through grapefruit bitters in a cocktail shaker.  Shake with ice, strain into a highball or tiki glass filled with crushed ice.  Float 1/2 oz. Crema de Mezcal on top.  Garnish with a pink grapefruit wedge.  Serve with a straw.