Fernet-Branca is a favorite spirit among bar industry professionals and Fernet and Coke is a popular way to enjoy this bitter, aromatic Italian liqueur. At Rose Mary, Top Chef season 15 winner Joe Flamm’s debut restaurant in Chicago, beverage director Kyle Davidson has introduced his take on the fizzy drink. The Tree Fort is made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Badel 1862 Antique Pelinkovac, vanilla syrup, lemon juice, dashes of Peychaud’s bitters and Coca-Cola. It’s a refreshing riff on a Fernet and Coke with some interesting elements and is currently featured under spritzes on their menu.
“Adding Fernet to Coke gives a wonderful interplay of the different herbs and flavors used in both,” says Davidson. “I wanted to extend the idea into adding the caramel of bourbon, some real vanilla and a bit of fresh lemon juice to balance sweetness.” Davidson says that the restaurant has claimed Antique Pelinkovac as their “house amaro,” given its Croatian heritage, and how comfortable it is sitting alongside the other amari. “In this drink it is a bit more approachable than Fernet, while still not losing its balance of bitterness and complexity.”
If you can’t get to Chicago to try Davidson’s cocktail, here’s how to make a Tree Fort at home:
- 1.25 oz Bourbon
- .75 oz Antique Pelinkovac
- .5 oz Lemon Juice
- .5 oz Vanilla Syrup
- Dash Peychaud’s Bitters
Shake these ingredients, and strain into a white wine glass.
Top with 2 to 3 oz of Coca-Cola, and garnish with half an orange wheel.
How to make your own vanilla syrup:
Take one fresh vanilla bean and split and scrape it into 2 quarts of simple syrup. Whisk or shake well and let sit overnight. Take out the scraped vanilla pod but leave the flecks of vanilla seeds (that’s how you know it’s real!).
Rose Mary is located at 932 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 and is open Sunday – Thursday 4:30 pm – 10 pm and Friday – Saturday 4:30 pm – 11 pm. Reservations open 30 days in advance: email@example.com.