Midnight Stinger

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Cocktail History

The Midnight Stinger is a variation of the classic Stinger that was created by Sam Ross of Attaboy in New York City, New York. It turns the original cocktail into a whiskey sour by substituting whiskey for brandy and adding citrus juice and sugar along with the bitterness of Fernet-Branca.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Whiskey: This is the base spirit. Ross calls for bourbon, but we opted for Bespoken Spirits 100-Proof Rye Whiskey because it features a one-of-a-kind spiciness and flavors that impart a warming quality.

Fernet-Branca: This is an Italian amaro made with various spices. It adds a distinct bitterness to the drink.

Lemon Juice: This adds sour citrus flavors that balance out the other bitter and sweet ingredients. We prefer to use fresh citrus juice because it’s less bitter than the bottled stuff and tastes much better.

Simple Syrup: This is a sweetener made with sugar and water. You can buy bottled simple syrup in a store, but we made ours at home using Alex’s recipe because it tastes better fresh and is very easy to make.

Mint: This is the garnish. It adds mint aroma.

Tasting Notes

The Midnight Stinger starts with strong aromas of cool mint, has a citrus-forward taste featuring the rye’s strength and spiciness along with the amaro’s herbal bitter notes, and goes down with a burst of sweetness and Fernet’s bouquet of flavors left in the throat. 

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: Fernet-Branca can be overbearing in some cocktails, but this one manages to tame it perfectly, lending its unique flavors but only a palatable hint of its bitterness. We both loved this drink! Alex even marked his calendar with the milestone of the first Fernet-Branca drink Kendall truly enjoyed too. 

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“While I originally altered the recipe to favor the mintiness of the original Stinger, opting to use Fernet-Branca Menta, a bit less sugar, and more rye, I have to admit the original is the standard. It’s split base of Fernet-Branca and whiskey manages to neuter the amaro’s aggressively bitter flavor to a palatable level and make the whiskey prominent but not spicy. The sugar along with the lemon then balance the whole thing out into a drink that I honestly think anybody would like, whether they’re a fan of Fernet-Branca’s bitterness and rye’s spiciness or not.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐
“It’s been a long time since we tried the original Stinger, so I don’t really remember much about it other than that it was simple to make. Although meant to be a variation of the classic Stinger, this cocktail is quite different since it’s made with whiskey instead of brandy and omits crème de menthe altogether. I do believe I prefer this one even with the added bitterness of Fernet-Branca though. Alex made a version with Fernet-Branca Menta so it would be more similar to the original Stinger, which he really liked, but I personally found it to be too minty and liked the true Midnight Stinger a bit more. It’s quite balanced and tastes like rye with a hint of mint. I would drink this again.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from Winter Drinks: 70 Essential Cold-Weather Cocktails by the editors of PUNCH.

AuthorWinter DrinksPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 1 oz Bourbon or Rye
 1 oz Fernet-Branca
 ¾ oz Lemon Juice
 ¾ oz Homemade Simple Syrup
 1 Mint Sprig

Method
1

Add whiskey, Fernet-Branca, lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass over fresh crushed ice.

4

Garnish with mint sprig.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 1 oz Bourbon or Rye
 1 oz Fernet-Branca
 ¾ oz Lemon Juice
 ¾ oz Homemade Simple Syrup
 1 Mint Sprig

Directions

Method
1

Add whiskey, Fernet-Branca, lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass over fresh crushed ice.

4

Garnish with mint sprig.

Midnight Stinger

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More Rye Cocktails

If you like this rye cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Mott & Mulberry: A rye cocktail made with Amaro Abano, apple cider, lemon juice, Demerara syrup, and apple slices

Remember The Maine: A rye cocktail made with sweet vermouth, cherry liqueur, absinthe, and a cherry

Brooklyn: A rye cocktail made with dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and Amer Picon

Falling Leaves: A rye cocktail made with Amaro Montenegro, toasted fig syrup, chocolate bitters, and an orange slice

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