Sometimes a recipe works because it answers a question. In the case of the last man standing—a nightcap from the book Last Call by Brad Thomas Parsons—the question was simple: would a Negroni with fernet work? If so, what would it taste like? This drink supplies answers to both questions. The first answer is surprisingly “yes”, and the second comes in the form of a bold, bitter drink with intense notes of orange peel and herbs. This recipe employs a split base, but little heed is required, as these elements are buried like a sack of gold. Campari and fernet furiously battle with each other in this drink, and it’s worth sticking around if only to see which ingredient comes out on top. With a pleasing amber tone and strong, screamingly bitter body, this drink will be most attractive to those looking for a night-ending palate buster.
For many, this drink will be reminiscent of the Toronto: a drink famous for kicking down the door of sensible fernet application, but it reminds us even more of the wonderful Apotheke, which works by balancing fernet with the equally boisterous and challenging creme de menthe. As with any fernet drink, the bottle you choose will seriously impact how it turns out. The original recipe printed in Last Call recommends the infamous Fernet-Branca, but we prefer the drink with milder Fernet Vallet, a bottle we employ in most drinks that request more than a splash of the stuff. The original recipe also requests traditional Campari, but these days we prefer Tempus Fugit’s Gran Classico in most Negroni-style drinks and this one is no exception. As mentioned earlier, the mixed base employed in this recipe adds intrigue and might somehow bring things together properly, but these particular flavors are mostly buried, thus obsessing over which rye or gin to choose will probably yield little. Opt for something simple and unfussy before moving on. Those who love orange peel will rejoice here, as the two peels make for a wonderfully fragrant experience and shouldn’t be skipped. This is a bartender's drink through and through, with a dead-simple recipe of equal parts and a trove of contentious ingredients, but for those who already know what they want, or simply wonder if a fernet Negroni could even work, look no further.