The Story Behind The Toronto
Bold and bitter, The Toronto combines rye whiskey, Fernet-Branca, and rich Demerara syrup.
The drink was originally referred to as the “Fernet Cocktail,” and was first mentioned in Robert Vermeire’s “Cocktails: How to Mix Them.” Vermeire included the option of using Cognac or rye, but the recipe is otherwise fairly similar to today’s build. The author noted in the 1922 book that residents of Toronto enjoyed the drink, which led to its eventual renaming.
While modern iterations typically employ rye, other types of whiskey — American and beyond — play well in this cocktail, too. Fernet-Branca, the bartender staple that features in surprisingly few classics, provides color and a distinctively bitter profile, while the sweetness from rich Demerara syrup rounds out the drink.
Similar to other spirits-forward cocktails, the Toronto is stirred rather than shaken. This preparation ensures it doesn’t become over-diluted (while still reaching the ideal temperature). The finished drink is strained into a chilled coupe or Nick & Nora glass, which keeps the liquid cold for longer due to the glassware’s construction. An orange twist, expressed over the top of the glass, serves as the ideal finishing touch, bringing together all of the cocktail’s components.
Craving The Toronto’s unique bitterness? Keep reading to mix up one of your own.