Anatomy of a Drink: Orsetto

Anatomy of a Drink: Orsetto

Your grandpa’s vintage liqueur got cool. Fernet Branca is slowly creeping back into the Des Moines’ bar scene. At Americana, Fernet is the inspiration for their martini called “Orsetto.” Bar manager Nick Eldredge shares his wisdom on Fernet, and this creation.

Expect the unexpected. “Orsetto” is a sophisticated cocktail that changes continuously as you drink it. It’s big and strong, but also mellowed out by sweet and soft. Therefore given its Italian name, little bear. The cocktail presents a beautiful balance of sweet, herbaceousness and citrus.

The main ingredients are Fernet Branca and Liquore Strega. Fernet is a medicinal, herbal, pungent liqueur, made in the mid-1800s, and used in the past to cure stomach ailments. When using Fernet, a small taste is plenty. As a chef uses a pinch of salt, Orsetto needs just a ½ ounce of Fernet. They key is to create a perfect balance.

That’s where Liquore Strega comes in. Liquore Strega is a sweet, herbal, saffron liqueur that balances the Fernet, to not be overwhelming. Both liqueurs are old school, herbal digestifs.

Liquore Strega (1 ½ ounces) is mixed with 1 ounce of simple syrup, and ½ ounce of lime juice. The ingredients are shaken, strained and poured on a coupe glass. The cocktail is garnished with a star anise spice.

Eldredge said Americana’s goal is to introduce the city to new flavors, get people to experience new things, and build their flavor profile. An Orsetto is a nice way to ease people into the taste of Fernet. It currently isn’t on the menu, but you can always order this hidden gem.


Get it for: $9

Where: Americana, 1312 Locust St.

Info: 515-243-1397,

About the Author

Stephanie is a contributor to Juice.

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