(Stock photo)

Everyone knows about the Manhattan— a staple cocktail of the North American experience and made known to us by shows like Mad Men and Sex and the City. 

But this is Canada and Toronto is our version of Manhattan city-wise, so it makes sense that it would also be our mid-century cocktail as well. 

The best thing about the Toronto? It features the “bartender’s handshake,” as an ingredient, aka, Fernet Branca.

Fernet Branca was first made in 1845 by an Italian self-taught herbalist as a pick-me-up and, I kid you not, a cure for worms. 

It’s called the bartender’s handshake because it’s not well known to most, but all industry bartenders will know about it. The best part about a bartender’s handshake is they are usually free! You just have to be known within the industry to be able to get one.

Fernet is a botanical and almost medicinal spirit I like to say is like an adult version of Jagrmeister. It’s for people who aren’t just trying to hook up at a club or have something to add to their Red Bull.

Mix that flavour profile with the deep, caramel and peppery taste of Canadian rye whiskey as well as simple syrup and some bitters and you’ve got yourself a delicious cocktail. 

It’s also handy that this one’s an easy one to make!

Here’s how to make a Toronto:


  • 2 oz – Canadian rye whiskey (think Crown Royal or Arbutus rye whiskey for something more local)
  • ½ oz  – Fernet Branca (a little dab’ll do ya, this stuff has lots of flavour)
  • ½ oz – Simple syrup (which is equal parts hot water and sugar, best made in a bigger batch to save you time)
  • Garnish – Twist of orange peel (to make it pretty)


  • In a mixing glass add several ice cubes
  • Add all ingredients except garnish
  • Stir well
  • Strain into the fanciest coop glass you’ve got
  • Garnish with a fresh peeled lemon twist

You’ve got yourself a Toronto (or a Tuhronno as the locals would call it)!

Let me know in the comments if you like it/love it/become obsessed with it/start teaching your local watering hole’s bartender how to make it!

Just remember to drink responsibly and never drink and drive.

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