It is rather ironic that I had to leave Canada for the United States to discover the Toronto cocktail. Maybe even more so when one considers the fact that I would’ve been unable to create this tasty libation if I had discovered it while I was in Vancouver. That’s because Fernet Branca is one of the many great spirits that is unavailable north of the border.

First delivered to the public in 1845, Fernet Branca is a medicinal Italian bitter whose recipe remains a secret to this day. I can tell you that along with myrrh, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, gentian, and peppermint there is definitely saffron. This “secret” ingredient is difficult to hide as the company who produces Fernet Branca, Fratelli Branca, is the largest consumer of saffron in the world, using upwards of 75% of the world’s supply!

The Toronto Cocktail is probably one of the best uses of Fernet Branca I have discovered to date. The Fernet doesn’t try to upstage the rest of the ingredients, but is content to add a subtle mosaic of flavors that slowly change as the finish lingers. The orange zest is a must as it helps to brighten up an otherwise dark drink.

So the next time you find a bottle of Fernet Branca, pick it up and mix yourself a tasty Toronto Cocktail. Raise you glass, look to the east, and take heart in the fact that the “center of the universe” will never have a championship hockey team.


2 oz rye

¼ oz Fernet Branca

¼ oz simple syrup

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir with ice in a mixing glass and strain into a cocktail glass.

Take a disc of orange zest and flame it into the drink.

Drop the zest into the drink.


Picture taken by:
Jamie Boudreau

~ by Jamie Boudreau on November 21, 2006.

21 Responses to “TORONTO COCKTAIL”

  1. […] drinks named after cities, most notably the Manhattan, but also the Frisco, the Saratoga and the Toronto. These are singular cocktails, whereas Boston cocktails are numerous and without apparent rhyme or […]

  2. […] thirsty folk!  It’s arranged by primary liquor: tequila, vodka, rum, etc.  Pisco ordered a Toronto (rye, Fernet Branca); Pisco’s friend D ordered some drink with a cucumber in it.  The Toronto […]

  3. Actually, Fernet Branca is available in Canada. The LCBO of Ontario carries it, even in Toronto itself!

  4. I finally found some at one of our largest LCBOs; the Queens Quay location! It’s definitely not available everywhere though.

  5. I happened upon a single dusty bottle of Fernet Branca in an out of the way liquor store earlier today and scooped it up. I was going to try it in a Zumbo cocktail, but will try the Toronto first!

  6. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also!

  7. Oh wow! I’m so excited to try this out. Not only do I live in Toronto, but I now have another use for that Fernet Branca!


  8. […] to the glories of the internet, I did find something by Jamie Boudreau that both seemed like a great use of Fernet Branca and would hit the note I was looking for on a […]

  9. […] me of another cocktail I’d had years previously at the Roebling Tea Room in Brooklyn: The Toronto cocktail. Holy crap, the Toronto is nearly identical to Retired Explorers’ Club. I invented a […]

  10. […] and amari blend beautifully together. While the Toronto is one of my favorites, a recent internet booze order gave me some new options with which to play. […]

  11. […] Go with Jamie Boudreau’s recipe, here. […]

  12. […] dort. Mais je n’ai pas perdu espoir. Et si je ne suis pas encore prêt à me lancer dans le Toronto Cocktail, lorsque la marque de gin Sipsmith a proposé le Hanky Panky comme cocktail du mois, je n’ai pas […]

  13. I also live in Vancouver, and first tasted one in Seattle. A great Fernet Branca cocktail to be sure, though my favourite – both in name and taste – is still the Hanky Panky.

    Great website. I look forward to trying some other recipes

  14. Try it in The Hanky Panky, one of the first cocktails from the Savoy Hotel. Ada Coleman invented it before Craddock made the bar so famous…

    1.5 Gin
    1.5 Sweet Vermouth
    2-3 dashes of Fernet Branca

  15. The best version of this cocktail, and I am a born and raised Torontonian, so I am forlorn to admit it, is at Clive’s in Victoria. This is the kind of place that makes it’s own cola with Fernet and has it available on tap. Not to mention they use bitters and falernum produced in Victoria as well. Heaven.

  16. It’s my first visit to this web page, and I am truly surprised to see such a fastidious feature YouTube video posted here.

  17. Just wanted to note that the original recipe from Embury’s hand says “1 part sugar, 2 parts fernet, 6 parts canadian rye and optional angostura bitter”. Serve like an old fashioned or stir and serve up, in any case garnish with orange peel.

  18. If you like this drink you have to try this one:
    Then try the Autumn Negroni he links. This dude truly respects Fernet and has a number of great cocktails where Fernet features. Thank me later.

  19. You could definitely see your skills in the work you write.
    The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t
    afraid to say how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

  20. […] Source: Jamie Boudreau […]

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