I found this bewitching little number while I was hunting for a cocktail I bookmarked once upon a time on Trader Tiki’s old site…before tradertiki.com went the way of the dinosaurs. Obviously I deserve what I get for not making note of the recipe before now, but instead I had to take some time hunting around the Google and doing some Facebook stalking to find said formula, which was couched rather cosily near The Devil’s Own. The ingredient list of The Devil’s Own was intriguing, to say the least, and since I had the ingredients on hand I set about making it (instead of the drink I had been looking for in the first place).
Created by Jason Schiffer, bartender and owner of 320 Main in Seal Beach, California (also known as the place where RumDood bartends), this drink might raise a few eyebrows. Not everyone shares the SLOSHED! crew’s love of Fernet Branca, but if you like it even a little bit this drink makes beautiful use of its very particular flavors. And aside from the perfectly apropos name, the mahogany shade of the finished cocktail certainly sets a very Halloween-y mood.
Rinse a cocktail glass with absinthe or pastis and set aside. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass filled with ice and stir well to combine. Strain into the absinthe-rinsed glass and squeeze over a twist of lemon, discarding the lemon. Serve, sans garnish.
As previously alluded, you will taste Fernet in this drink. It does not overwhelm—at least in this reporter’s opinion—and is balanced quite gorgeously by the strong vanilla flavor of the Zaya accented subtly by the vanilla syrup. Anise rounds out the flavors in the Fernet and adds a touch more sweetness, while the lemon oil expressed at the end teases out the citrus notes of the Gran Gala and adds brightness to keep the drink from being bogged down in sweeter flavors. Overall, this is an interesting, complex and rather rich drink that perfectly captures the essence of autumn—and Halloween.