Fernet’s Last Theorem

Fernet's Last Theorem, flanked by previous attempts at theorems

My friend Ash came up with a bad math pun involving Fernet and Fermat. A drink had to be made and a Last Word variant seemed like a good choice. Finally after months of talking about the bad idea over drinks, we got down to actually mixing up some possibilities. We considered replacing the gin with bourbon and even cachaça, replacing the lime with lemon, and even excluding the Chartreuse altogether. On our 5th try, we settled on something close to the original, but worthy of the name.

0.75 oz  Fernet (Branca)
0.75 oz  gin (New Amsterdam)
0.75 oz  Maraschino
0.75 oz  lime Juice
0.375 oz Green Chartreuse

One thing that became clear in testing is that the Chartreuse was necessary to tame the bite of the Fernet a bit and get it to play well with the rest of the drink. The lime juice also helped settle it, the bite from the lemon juice and the bite from the Fernet were too much and fought one another—in your mouth. The lime and Chartreuse combo work with the Fernet and not against it. The New Amsterdam is nicely inoffensive and mixes well, but the bourbon and cachaça masked the Fernet.

The drink starts off bright and then mellows with some sweetness and then ends with a lime/mint aftertaste that is not overpowering. It’s refreshing and sour, but surprisingly balanced. Also, it doesn’t come off at all medicinal (save a bit in the aftertaste), which is surprising given the amount of herbal here. A Last Word variant I’ll definitely make again!


One thought on “Fernet’s Last Theorem

  1. Now listen here.

    I’m a bartender who generally despises pun cocktails. In principle. And I love Fernet, as bartenders tend to. (I am also partial to a Last Word.) And I happen to be into mathematics; coincidentally I recently read a really interesting book about your man Fermat. But by Pythagoras. I would order and drink this cocktail. Exponentially. Because THAT is how you combine elements cleverly to make wordplay in a cocktail. Very very erudite indeed, and hats off to you sir. Well done.

    Now if I ever encounter a customer of intellectual slant in the bar where I work, which unfortunately is an unlikely occurrence, I shall not hesitate to make one of these babies. Here’s hoping.


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