I love gimmicky halloween cocktails as much as the next weirdo. OBVIOUSLY. They’re a fun first round, but you don’t always want to drink them all night. Enter The Bitter Brain, which definitely sounds a little gimmicky, but could pass as a regular-ass drink any time of year. The only gimmick here, really, is the brains part — booze-soaked raisins. And they’ll only be booze-soaked if you take your time and sip this shit, which shouldn’t be hard since it’s strong, and fairly bitter.
Okay, I just said it was fairly bitter but it’s definitely not too bitter. It’s really well balanced, and inspired by two cocktails I love — the Toronto, which was originally created to highlight Canadian whiskey, and the Bitter Old Coot, a drink I try to have every year on my birthday at Justus Drugstore in Smithville, MO. Like those two, my drink relies heavily on rye whiskey and Fernet-Branca (a bitter herbal liqueur), then gets a few dashes of Angostura Bitters as well as orange bitters (which Angostura also makes), plus a little simple syrup. And then there’s the raisins. Ugh. Raisins.
Now, I normally don’t put raisins in drinks (or anything, ever) because they’re fucking disgusting. But Halloween is all about gross shit, and without these shriveled, boozy little pellets, this cocktail would just be called “The Bitter” — which, now that I think about it, would actually be a really great name for a bar, but but not for a drink. But if you like raisins, you’ll probably like how booze-soaked they’ll be at the end if you don’t slam this thing. And if you really, really like raisins, go crazy, friends. Put seven raisins in there. Or seventeen. It’s your fucking party. Or your night alone on the couch with the porch light turned off so nobody bugs you while you try to catch up on Scandal (which is really extra horrible this season; I’m not caught up, either).
The Bitter Brain
1 or 3 or 17 raisins
2 ounces rye whiskey
½ ounce Fernet-Branca
¼ ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes orange bitters
Add the raisins to the bottom of a coupe glass, then add the liquid ingredients to a mixing glass with a handful of ice. Stir until it’s well chilled, then strain into the glass and enjoy.
Like what you see? Follow me on Instagram!