Published in I’m Just Here for the Drinks, an exquisite cocktail manual by famed head barman Sother Teague, this indulgent treat is pitched as “proof positive that fernet is equally welcome whether you’re listening to a three-piece band in a smoky Italian cocktail den or nodding off to a steel drummer playing over the waves on the beach in Miami.” Teague—who works as beverage director at New York’s biggest tiny cocktail hotspot Amor y Amargo—is dead on with his description of a cocktail that hits all the decadent notes of a creamy, mint-forward cocktail, but with enough bracing complexity to elevate it above the common fare. There are typically two approaches to working with fernet: one is to balance the spirit’s intensity with more intensity, and the other is to—well—use less of it. Given this is tiki, Teague smartly opts for the former here and throws gasoline onto the fire with intense notes of pineapple, chocolate, and mint. The coconut cream adds a strong backing that transforms the drink into something between a grasshopper and a painkiller. When trying this drink, we couldn’t help but gush about how brilliantly the diverse ingredients played off each other, bringing out flavors in each we rarely saw, and lending true credibility to the concoction’s name.
The original version of this recipe specifically requests Fernet-Branca. Other fernets will manifest differently, with more bracing, complex fernets working better with all of the other intense ingredients. We also like Fernet Francisco here, as it is equally intense, but adds a few unexpected flavors that surprise. This recipe also calls specifically for Smith & Cross, though any funky gold rum in the jamaican style will work. We like Hamilton navy strength rum in these situations, and it worked spectacularly. Coco Lopez is a common choice as a coconut cream in bars across the world, but frankly it kinda grosses us out. It also comes with a lot of added sugar; something we don’t think this cocktail needs. We opted for whole, canned coconut cream (Native Forest) which worked wonderfully, but we do recommend blitzing it quickly in a food processor to remove chunkiness and thoroughly blend the contents. The original recipes requests the drink be piled high over pebble ice, though we prefer the look of coarsely crushed ice here, something we achieve with a few whirls on our trusty hand-cranked ice crusher.