I discovered this when trying to find a drink that uses an amaro as an ingredient; I have a bottle of Asterley Brothers’ Dispense that really needs to be brought out more often: it has an excellent bitterness with a liquorice sweetness which is really moreish. Some online research, plus consulting my cocktail books, led to the Toronto recipe; it’s a 2006 revamp of a 1948 recipe, which in itself was based on a 1922 drink, the Fernet cocktail.
As you might have guessed, the Toronto name comes from the use of a Canadian rye-blend whiskey. I didn’t have any at home, so I made my own version by mixing a good rye (High West) with a simple bourbon (Jim Beam). The rest of the drink is amaro, sugar or maple syrup and some good bitters: the result is very spiritous version of a Manhattan, giving extra bitterness from the combination of amaro and bitters. It’s probably one to experiment with your favourite amaro – Dispense is good for this as it has a rich sweetness with the bitter, so it can take the extra bitters on top. I wondered about using my other go-to amaro, Montenegro, instead, but the richness of Dispense seemed more appropriate (Montenegro is sweeter by comparison, but not as complex overall).
To make one, stir together the rye/bourbon mix with the amaro and bitters over plenty of ice. When well chilled, strain into a cold glass, spritz over some orange zest and garnish with a cocktail cherry (Luxardo is best).
50ml of rye/bourbon or Canadian blended whiskey (I used 35ml of rye with 15ml of bourbon)
7.5ml of amaro (I used Asterley Brothers’ Dispense)
7.5ml of sugar or maple syrup
Two good dashes of bitters (I used Bittermens’)
Stir, then strain into a well-chilled coupe.