Bittersweet Angel

I have no fucking idea how this one got started...


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Sometimes I spend a lot of time looking for drinks that incorporate a newly discovered (new to me) liqueur into a tasty cocktail. Other times I get sucked into the internet vortex of tangential references to historical cocktails and newly adapted versions. Other times I’m mixin’ and drinkin’ and thinkin’ and I have no fucking idea where I am, but I make something great so I write it down but forget how and why I ended up there. This WAS one such recipe, but then I looked at it a month later and said to myself, “What the fuck is this and how did this happen?!?” The title I had given it was “Moonlight Angel”, which I vaguely remembered was a blending of two drinks, one with each of the two words. However, despite all my research and digging in to bookmarks, apps, notes, etc. I couldn’t find any related recipes that even remotely used more than one of the ingredients. I gave up and I didn’t even bother recreating it to test it cuz I could tell that the amount of Fernet Branca in it would make it taste like toothpaste. Instead, I decided to try and salvage my original “stroke of genius” by experimenting further. The original recipe I had created used lavender syrup, which was obviously because I had some left over from my previous Flower Girl recipe, so this time the Aperol inspired me to create a grapefruit simple syrup from fresh grapefruit peels, which I had never done before. I also decided to use about 25% light brown sugar with the usual pure cane sugar in the standard 1:1 ratio of sugar to water. Very tasty! The Fernet Branca seemed important to the original recipe, so I decided to try it as a rinse and substituted the original lime for grapefruit to take that theme a bit further. That tasted pretty good, but was a bit too sweet, so I upped the mezcal and added the recent acquisition of Cynar to give it a bit of bitter, hence the new name I eventually gave it. I think this came out pretty damn interesting and complex as well as tasty! I suppose you could figure out my original “Moonlight Angel” recipe by reverse engineering my written notes here, but try this first:


* editor’s note: Okay, the original was not so bad after all if you reduce the Fernet Branca, in fact I like it about the same. It’s 1 1/2 mezcal, 1/2 Aperol, 1/4 Fernet Branca, 1/2 honey syrup (Lavender if you have it), 1/2 lime. Still, try the new one first:


  • 2 oz. Vida mezcal

  • ½ oz. Cynar

  • ½ oz. Aperol

  • ¾ oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit

  • ½ oz. grapefruit simple syrup

  • Fernet Branca rinse


Shake with ice, strain and pour straight up into martini glass rinsed with Fernet Branca.

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All cocktail photos and written content for Drinking and Thinking... © 2019 by Dave Hebb