Drinking Out: Il Patrizio at Franny’s

When Franny’s, a bright, modern pizza and pasta restaurant on Brooklyn’s Flatbush Avenue, made New York Magazine‘s 101 Best Restaurants list (coming in at #48), I had to admit I’d never heard of it. It caught my eye on the list for that reason, and because it was in my neighborhood.

Franny’s, named for one of its two co-owners (Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg) opened in 2004 to great reviews. Its Neapolitan-style pizzas have been praised for their lightness and use of local ingredients. The restaurant is successful enough that it’s moving down Flatbush in November to an old Blockbuster video store site (after a thorough renovation of course), doubling its capacity.

On the drinks side, Franny’s lists assorted amari (though nothing unusual), whiskeys and gins by brand (including two genevers and one old tom-style gin), and a stellar selection of Italian wines.

There are seven cocktails on the current menu, including two classics (Brooklyn and Negroni). I opted for the Il Patrizio ($12): Old Overholt rye, Amaro Lucano, sassafras, and a float of Fernet Branca.

It’s a deep and bitter cocktail, served in a Collins glass, topped off with soda over ice with a straw. The flavor is very complex; almost meaty and smoky. The sassafras adds a subtle root beer-like element, and the Fernet (if you’re drinking out of the straw) doesn’t appear much until you’re almost through. I meant to ask the bartender what form of sassafras they use — tea, syrup? — but I didn’t get the chance. (Sassafras, which comes from a tree of the same name, was banned in some forms decades ago as a carcinogen.)

I’m not familiar with the amaro used here either but each one is different, so substituting for another one could dramatically change the cocktail. Amaro Lucano lists rue, artemisia, salvia, cinnamon, orange, basil, aloe, savory, coriander, oregano, gentian, marjoram, angelica, and elder flowers as its primary herbal ingredients. It traces its history back to a small-town bakery in 1894 in Italy. A bottle runs about $26.

Incidentally, Amaro Lucano went through a bottle redesign last year, done by the Milan-based firm Robilant & Associati. The new bottle is the one on the left.

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4 Responses to Drinking Out: Il Patrizio at Franny’s

  1. I had no idea until relatively recently that Amaro was just a category of liqueurs versus a specific thing, but I’ve become a big fan of them in cocktails (especially the Luxardo Amaro and Rabarbaro Zucca).

  2. I love amari (using the proper Italian plural for amaro sounds pretentious — like saying ‘foci’ instead of ‘focuses,’ but oh well). I like Luxardo and Cynar (which apparently has artichoke as its main ingredient, but I can’t taste it), and I love Averna. Averna shows up in a lot of cocktail recipes these days. Another great one is Montenegro, which has a bittersweet, almost root beer flavor. I always liked Ramazzotti, too. Most of these are in the $20-$30 a bottle range. Montenegro is about $27 and Averna is $26. There are hundreds of these!

    I wasn’t familiar with Rabarbaro Zucca so I had to look it up. I need to try it! Just as Cynar is artichoke based, Rabarbaro is rhubarb. Sounds really interesting. My local liquor stores are listing it in the $30-$36 range. If you google it, some images of posters from the 80s show up, too. Kind of cool advertising.

    It’s not exactly about the amaro category per se, but the Vermouth 101 site (http://vermouth101.com/) taught me a bunch about the differences between the fortified wines (like sherry and port — wines with neutral spirits added), aromatized wines (like Barolo Chinato and amari — wines that are infused with various botanicals), and finally, wines like vermouths which are both fortified and aromatized. Wow.

    And have I mentioned The Bitter Truth’s EXR before? It’s the closest any booze has come to a cologne to me. It’s good, but pretty weird: http://the-bitter-truth.com/liqueurs/exr/

    • Thanks for the Vermouth 101 link, that shoudl be helpful.

      I feel like the small amount of space I have left in my cocktail cabinet will soon be taken up with amari.

      Out here I see Cynar in a ton of cocktails, but that is probably my least favorite so far. I haven’t tried Averna that I know of (though sometimes I get to try experiments so maybe), but I will make a point of it.

      if you do end up with a bottle of Rabarbaro, Marvel makes a great drink that is essentially a perfect Negroni with it in place of Campari.

      • There’s a lot of interesting stuff on the vermouth side, too. Have we talked about Carpano Antica before? If you’re not averse to slightly bitter flavors (and from your interest in amari, I’m guessing you’re not), Carpano isn’t bad straight. That’s good because it usually comes in a liter bottle. But it makes a mean Manhattan. And Lillet just came out with Lillet Rose. It’s delicious.

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