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The West Rye

west rye cocktail

So this drink was originally called a Hanky Panky, and many thanks to my friend Neal for introducing me to such a great drink. I am renaming it, though, because, well, that name is gross. It's a 100 year old cocktail, first concocted at the Savoy Hotel in London-- and with the latest cocktail resurgance, it should be as-ordered as a gimlet, or Sazerac, or at least a Pimm's cup. But the name! All but the most insufferable hipsters (and weirdos like Neal) wouldn't feel horribly self-conscious ordering one aloud.

So I am renaming it The West Rye. It's the perfect name that reflects the nature of the drink (and the neighborhood): Boozy, bracing, and a little eccentric... a concoction where the whole is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Fernet Branca is an Italian digestivo (which my husband loves straight but to me tastes like band-aids and menthol cigarettes) that has a blend of botanicals, including cardamom, chamomile, saffron and rhubarb. It's too strong for me on its own, but it's magic fairy dust when added to a good London dry gin and sweet vermouth.

The Hanky Panky calls for an orange twist, but The West Rye is just a little bitter... so you gotta go with grapefruit.

Recipe adapted from "The PDT Cocktail Book" by Jim Meehan Makes one drink

  • 2 ounces Beefeater (or other London Dry) Gin

  • 1½ ounces Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (go on, spring for the fancy vermouth. It's totally worth it.)

  • ¼ ounce Fernet Branca

  • Ice

  • Grapefruit peel (if you are super-hipster, you can flame it. Learn how here)

In a mixing glass, combine the gin, vermouth and Fernet and fill with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with the twist.

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