Bitter Handshake

Adapted from Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons

bitter handshake lead

The Bitter Handshake was the very first drink Andrew Bohrer ever served me. He had been making a name for himself around Seattle as an inventive bartender, and he lived up to his reputation when I met him at Mistral Kitchen, where he used to hold court, and gave me a drink that I still think about often.

While Andrew was experimenting with a Fernet Branca–based cocktail, one of the sous chefs presented him with some reduced blood orange juice to play around with behind the bar. From this, Andrew developed an after-dinner Fernet old-fashioned digestif of sorts, with an ingenious rye whiskey syrup subbing in for the standard simple syrup and the rich blood orange reduction serving as an improvement over the muddled oranges from poorly made and overly sweet old-fashioneds. Andrew is fanatical about his ice and he serves this over a hand-carved ice sphere. If you don’t feel like hand carving your own ice sphere and don’t have the right mold, you can swap in a large hunk of ice or a large ice cube. The orange zest wrapped around the ice won’t look as elegant, but the drink will still be delicious.

Reprinted with permission from Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.


Serving: 1

Garnish: thick spiral of orange zest

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice and stir until chilled.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over an ice sphere.
  4. Garnish with the orange zest atop the ice sphere.
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