When Whisky met Averna, the Witty Comeback was Born

F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he said, “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” The Witty Comeback was born when the very Italian Averna Amaro chanced upon the distinctly American rye whisky. And, the gentleman behind it all is a certain Don Saltzstein, of The New York Times. When Don isn’t busy editing travel destinations, he likes to mix himself a fabulous drink, or two. Averna Amaro didn’t quite please our boy. So, he decided to goof around a little at a derby party, and out of the alchemy was born a magic potion called The Witty Comeback. And, his dear friend Mark Y. Park was so fired up over the tipple, he couldn’t come up with a witty comeback when he was asked how new concoction tasted. Something about that reply must’ve caught both their fancies, for Mark ended up naming Don’s cocktail The Witty Comeback. 

Averna amaro’s bittersweet aftertaste and citrusy notes infuse beautifully with the piquant, zesty palate of rye whisky.  When you’re making this cocktail at home, go for the Old Overholt rye whisky, America’s favourite. The spiced, peppery taste of the rye whisky cuts through the sticky sweetness of the Averna, with hints of ginger syrup and lemon to spice things up. Without further ado, find out how you can make yourself the famous little drink.


  • Syrup
  • Ginger
  • 60 ml of Old Overholt rye whisky
  • 15 ml of Averna Amaro
  • 15-20 ml of lemon juice
  • 15 ml of ginger syrup
  • Spiral of orange peel

The Process

Boil equal parts of sugar with water to make a sticky syrup. Infuse the syrup with ginger for about half an hour. Now pour 60 ml of Old Overholt rye whisky with 15 ml of Averna Amaro, 15-20 ml of lemon juice, and 15 ml of ginger syrup. Shake well with ice. Serve in chilled cocktail glasses, with a spiral of orange peel for that fancy finish.


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