By F&B’s Esmond Kwan

A shot of Fernet-Branca is often called the ‘Bartender’s Handshake’ because of its popularity among mixologists – it is the most iconic Amaro in the world and Italy’s most celebrated spirit. 

But the first time I came across a bottle of this was when I was just 17 years old, starting my first ever restaurant gig in Auckland and being told to ignore it because it tastes like cough syrup. That soon changed when I moved to London to seek further progression in my career, I started working in a kiwi restaurant based in Seven Dials – close enough to Covent Garden to attract all the tourists seeking that bit of English and European-influenced beverages.

I later learnt that Fernet-Branca is not only an excellent digestive but was meant to be mixed in a cocktail shaker and shaken in an angry bartender style.

Mixologists agree that shaking it angrily brings out the Italian bitterness, a prominent player in this otherwise unassuming cocktail. If you look at the photo, I have already used a little bit – mixing and trialling many different concoctions, and in the end, having found the best thirst quencher.

This cocktail, which I have named Midnight Amaro, is so good that I won’t even need to tell you what’s in it, all you need to do is plunge down at the Members’ Bar, give me or Muzz the Bartender’s Handshake, and we’ll shake up a storm!

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