Pre-prohibition cocktails and modern twists on classics



    1.5oz Whiskey

    .75oz Fernet-Branca

    .75oz Sweet Vermouth


    Add the whiskey, Fernet-Branca and Sweet Vermouth to a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


    A Manhattan variant using Fernet-Branca in place of bitters. Deceptively sweet up front, but quickly replaced by the bitter “mint” flavor of the Fernet Branca. The whiskey, while the main ingredient, serves to balance this one, while all the action seems to come from the Fernet and vermouth (if using a heavier vermouth like Carpano Antica). I recommend a heavier whiskey, with slightly higher proof, such as Rittenhouse BIB Rye or Knob Creek.

    • A dash of rhubarb bitters adds a great cherry like flavor to this one.


    First published in Crockett’s Old Waldorf Bar Days (1931), Fanciulli was said by Crockett to be a twist on Italian slang, meaning “the boys.” Many suggest that the cocktail is older than this publication and was actually named after Francesco Fanciulli, an Italian immigrant and leader of the US Marine Corps band in the 1890s.

    Fanciulli was the successor of the very popular John Philip Sousa. In trying to break from the shadow of Sousa, Fanciulli constantly faced an uphill battle. Known to be argumentative on occasion, Fanciulli’s tribulations came to ahead during a Memorial Day Parade. Lieut. Draper, commander of the Marine contingent, requested he play more of Sousa’s music, Fanciulli refused and was subsequently court-martialed and dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corp.

    In reality Fanciulli got somewhat of a raw deal. He had big shoes to fill and even at the event in question, had been playing Sousa’s music in addition to his own. That being said, some compare Fanciulli’s abrasiveness to the extra bitterness added by the Fernet in the Fanciulli Cocktail, suggesting that this earned the cocktail its name.

    2 Responses to “Fanciulli”

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