A Fernet Float on the Sunset Strip

by Emily Bell
Antoinette Bruno
April 2014

Restaurant

Kiowa Bryan mixes drinks like a matadora flares her cape, drawing in fickle Angelino scenesters and helping build cocktail culture in Los Angeles. Exhibit A: the earnest, progressive, and festive Fernet Bronco. It's an adult ice cream float, the perfect combination of trend, tradition, and playfulness that keep crowds coming back to The Eveleigh.

Bryan's Fernet float is full of fun and nostalgia. It's also full of flavor and complexity—did we mention irresistible fun? The spiked float is a balance of Aviation gin, Dolin Blanc, strawberry-fennel soda, and scoops of Fernet Branca ice cream; it's simultaneously rich and refreshing, dirty yet innocent.

House-made Strawberry Fennel Soda, Aviation Gin, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Lemon Juice, and Fernet Ice Cream

House-made Strawberry Fennel Soda, Aviation Gin, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Lemon Juice, and Fernet Ice Cream

Bartender Kiowa Bryan  of The Eveleigh – Los Angeles, CA

Bartender Kiowa Bryan of The Eveleigh – Los Angeles, CA

The Eveleigh – Los Angeles, CA

The Eveleigh – Los Angeles, CA

Since opening in 2010, The Eveleigh has accomplished the improbable twice over: "[pulling] off that whimsical, breezy garden feel in the very unlikely location of the Sunset Strip," says Bryan, and, maintaining and evolving a craft cocktail menu for more than three and a half years. "Much of that credit must be given to Bar Manager Dave Kupchinksy," says Bryan. "When he first told me he was opening a spot on the Strip and wasn't going to carry Red Bull, I laughed in his face. Six months later I was begging him for a job."

 "We wanted a program that would be regarded as an institution, like PDT or Employees Only in New York," says Bryan. This called for a serious-as-Scotch drinks program to be developed, in a style that would appeal to both the carefree LA drinker and the tippler hound alike. Enter Fernet Branca. It's the opposite of Red Bull, but the Red Bull crowd can get down with the Fernet Bronco.

So, why "Bronco" for a delicate drink? The Eveleigh has a Sunday cocktail program and "my turn happened to fall on Super Bowl Sunday," says Bryan of the now painful-to-recollect showdown between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. "Instead of drinking copious amounts of cheap beer and eating more flavors of dip than should be legal before 2pm, I funneled my FOMO [fear of missing out] into themed cocktails," she says. The Fernet Bronco got its name before Bryan conceived the drink. "I often fashion cocktails after a clever—or stupid—name," says Bryan. "Thus, I knew I wanted to use Fernet."

The ability of bartenders to profitably play with Fernet Branca is a litmus test for the mixology-health of a market. "Yes, [Los Angeles] is still catching up," says Bryan, "but the amount of growth that we've experienced in the last five years is incredible! We're now right at the top of our game, with everyone else."

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