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This flavorful Toronto cocktail combines the depth and warmth of whiskey with the intrigue of herbal Fernet-Branca liqueur.

Toronto cocktail
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Want a sophisticated yet easy drink to whip up to impress? Try the Toronto cocktail! If you love whiskey drinks, this is the cocktail for you. A fancy spin on the Old Fashioned, the Toronto features whiskey and Fernet-Branca. What does it taste like? A Toronto is alcohol-forward, with a sophisticated, complex, and rich flavor. It balances the earthiness of the rye whiskey with the subtle bitterness of the Fernet-Branca. Here’s how to make it!

Toronto cocktail

What’s a Toronto cocktail?

The Toronto is a great impressive cocktail to make for someone who loves whiskey drinks. While it’s balanced, it’s much more bitter than sweet. I’m more of a whiskey sour fan myself, but this is one is Alex’s favorites. It’s great for slow sipping over good conversation. Here’s what’s in a Toronto cocktail:

  • Rye whiskey
  • Fernet-Branca liqueur
  • Angostura bitters
  • Simple syrup or maple syrup

Fernet-Branca: is it worth buying a bottle?

You might already have whiskey on your shelf, but the big purchase here is Fernet-Branca. Fernet-Branca is an Italian bitter: a liqueur made with a mix of herbs and spices. It has a higher alcohol content than most bitters: 40 to 45% alcohol. You can use a splash in cocktails of all kinds, stir it into a cola (as Argentinians are known to do!), or even drink it straight (as San Francisco bartenders do).

Either way, fernet is quite the trend that only seems to be going up. So, yes! It is worth getting a bottle for this Toronto cocktail and adding it to your collection. You can also use it for other Fernet Branca cocktails like the Hanky Panky or Fernet Sour. It adds intrigue, with a bitter, sweet, and herbaceous flavor all at once.

How to pronounce Fernet-Branca? It’s Italian, so you say “Fair-net brahn-ka”. Resist the temptation to make it French and say Fair-nay.


How to make a Toronto cocktail (2 steps)

Ready to try this unique cocktail? Here’s how to make it (or go right to the recipe):

  1. Mix everything in a cocktail mixing glass. Add the rye whiskey, Fernet-Branca, Angostura bitters, and simple syrup to a mixing glass and stir for 30 seconds.
  2. Strain into a glass and serve. Garnish with an orange peel.

Wondering what a cocktail mixing glass is? Keep reading.

Toronto drink

What’s a cocktail mixing glass vs a cocktail shaker?

Many of our cocktail recipes are mixed in a cocktail shaker. But this Toronto cocktail is mixed in a cocktail mixing glass with ice, and then strained into the serving glass. What’s the difference?

  • Cocktail shaker: Used for “shaken” cocktails. Shaking a drink with ice dilutes it more because the ice melts faster when it’s shaken vs when it’s stirred.
  • Cocktail mixing glass: Use for “stirred” cocktails. Stirred cocktails are less diluted: like in the case of this Toronto cocktail. Most of our cocktail recipes are simply stirred right in the serving glass: but that’s because they’re all served with ice. Because the Toronto is not served with ice, it’s mixed in a separate cocktail mixing glass and then poured into the serving glass. (How’s that for confusing!)

You may be wondering, do I really need a cocktail mixing glass? Yes and no. You can definitely use any glass or container you like to mix the drink, then strain it into the serving glass. But don’t you want to look like someone who knows their cocktails? If your answer was yes, get yourself a cocktail mixing glass. (Plus, it just looks cool.)

Fernet branca

When to serve a Toronto cocktail

The Toronto cocktail is complex and bitter; it’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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Toronto cocktail

Toronto Cocktail

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x
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This flavorful Toronto cocktail combines the depth and warmth of whiskey with the intrigue of herbal Fernet-Branca liqueur.


  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) rye whiskey
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) Fernet-Branca
  • ½ tablespoon simple syrup or pure maple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • For the garnish: Orange peel


  1. Combine the rye whiskey, Fernet-Branca, syrup and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass (or any other type of glass). Fill the mixing glass with 1 handful ice and stir continuously for 30 seconds.
  2. Strain into a glass. Garnish with an orange peel and serve.
  • Category: Cocktail
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Raymond Masleck says:

    Way too much Fernet. Try a teaspoon (5ml)

  2. Julie Sorensen says:

    You’re recipes look great! We have “Supper Club” with friends once a month and if you’re not cooking you’re making the cocktails!
    We’re wondering if you can tell us any information about the glassware used for Toronto cocktail. We intend to serve it and those glasses are fabulous. Any info you can share would be great.