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Fernet Branca

Liqueur-Fernet-Branca

Fernet Branca

Looking for a digestif that’s perfect for imbibing after a hardy meal? Try this Bitter Italian Amaro, whether after a romantic meal, during a celebration with friends or while you take in a perfect sunset.

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My rating for Fernet Branca is a 7.5/10

I’d suggest you buy a bottling of Fernet Branca. Here’s what Your Taste “Bud” found out.

Summary

Fernet Branca has been in the business since 1845. They’ve been slowly crafting and perfecting this bitter liqueur. It’s perfect for shooting and can be a great mixer.

Fernet is an Italian digestive, and she is quite bitter. I’d suggest all you Negroni drinkers out there to add a few drops of this into your cocktail.

What’s Fernet

Let’s break it down quickly for you:

  1. Ingredients: Alcohol, unique blend of selected blossoms, aromatic herbs, and flowers.
  2.    Alcohol content: 39% (78° proof US)
  3. Presentation: Packaged in a traditional Fernet-Branca liqueur bottle. Very sleek with the embossed seal of Branca.
  4. How to drink it: Drink straight, on the rocks, or with a splash of mineral water. It is a wonderful bitter mixer. Traditionally considered an after dinner drink.

Straight from the guru’s themselves:

  • “It’s decisive tone is derived from the unique taste of its individual ingredients which results in an undeniable rich bitter that finishes with a delicately spiced aftertaste.
    Proudly bitter since its inception in 1845, Fernet-Branca has been produced according to the original recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation and continues to be the true Italian Bitter, truly the one and only Fernet.
  • “Fernet-Branca isn’t only a digestive bitter, it’s a true legend. With 27 herbs, roots and spices, it’s formula is one of the world’s best-kept secrets, so tightly kept, that since its origin even those who collect the spices do not know the exact quantities needed. Today, the only custodian of the Fernet-Branca secret formula is the President, Niccolò Branca, who personally measures out the spices during the production process. The recipe is the true pride of Fernet-Branca and demonstrates how a century-plus tradition and know-how are the secret to its success. When you choose Fernet-Branca, you embark on a journey of the discovery of places, scents, and flavors. It is the awareness of the superiority of its strong, intense and unique taste.”

So, we really don’t know what Fernet is. Essentially, it is a digestive, and the Italians are very proud of it. GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME.

History

Here is a history of Fernet, via The Straight Up

You gotta check out The Straight up blog as they are doing incredible things!

Fernet-Branca was invented in 1845 by bernardino branca in Milan. Another story claims that a woman named Maria Scala invented the amaro and later married into the Branca family, adopting the family’s name for her creation. However, it is more likely that while Scala did marry into the family, it was after Fernets creation by Bernardino. Regardless of who made it, Fernet-Branca was a hit, and in no time, was being distributed throughout Italy.

Fernet typically refers to the original, but it is also used with other Fernet-Branca like spirits, such as Luxardo Fernet or Fernet Cinzano, which represent their respective companies forays into this flavor profile.

You may be wondering were the “fernet” comes into Fernet-Branca. Shortly after it hit store shelves, a Dr. Fernet Svedese began publishing papers in scientific journals toting the many health benefits of Fernet-Branca. Branca’s creation was the cure for almost any ailment you could think of, from headaches to menstrual pains, to fever, even claiming his family lived into their 100s thanks to Fernet-Branca. Naturally, this built a lot of hype around the spirit. Not to be left behind on this wondrous concoction, other doctors began recommending Fernet to their patients.

Eventually it was discovered that Dr. Fernet, and his healthy old family, were nothing more than a fictitious, marketing ploy by Branca; however, the health claims continued to entrance customers with this bitter amaro. The word Fernet is actually said to have been made up by the Branca family.

The company’s success continued and by 1907, the Brancas began expanding worldwide, including the United States and Argentina. In fact in terms of consumption, Italy, Argentina and the US are the biggest consumers of Fernet-Branca worldwide.

Fernet3

In argentina, Fernet-Branca has become so celebrated, many consider it an official spirit. Argentina was populated by many Italian immigrants who brought Fernet-Branca with them in the late 1800s. Other boosts to its popularity in Argentina came from further Italian immigration during the world wars as well as from college students in the 1980s, during the Falklands War. This war was between the British and Argentinians over control of the Falklands islands off the coast of Argentina. During this conflict, many students boycotted British whiskeys, instead choosing Fernet because they felt it a national beverage. In contrast to the older  generation, who typically enjoyed their Fernet-Branca neat, this younger generation preferred it with Coca-cola, spurring the intensely popular fernet and coke. Currently, Argentina is the only country outside of Italy where Fernet-Branca is produced.

The eagle logo was created by Leopoldo Metlicovitz in 1895. It first appeared in Branca calendars but eventually became the company’s official logo.

In America, Fernet is also hugely popular, particularly in San Francisco. On a recent visit, literally every liquor store I passed had a bottle in clear view of the window. People drank it everywhere. In contrast to Argentina’s Fernet and Coke, San Francisco like to chase shots of fernet with ginger ale.

So what led to its popularity in the states? Chalk this one up to one of the only pluses of prohibition. Due to its many purported health benefits, Fernet-Branca was one of the few spirits still sold in US pharmacies during prohibition. People grew to love their Fernet and this carried through the repeal of Prohibition, particularly in San Francisco, where North Beach and its many Italian immigrants helped make Fernet-Branca a citywide staple.

My Take

Personally, I like Fernet because it’s very bitter, yet refreshing… they also have such a cool site. Fernet Branca‘s site can take awhile to load, but the graphics are well worth it. It’s also in Italian, but there is obvi an option to choose English.

As I said before, Fernet is the perfect shooter. I got a bottle for some friends and myself last weekend. My good friend, Trent, who complains often, said it tasted like cough syrup. He still slurped it down. My other friend, Sean, has acquired a taste for bitterness and so he liked it. He said, “Knowing that there are tons of herbs in this, I feel that it would be okay to do multiple shots of these.” It isn’t that healthy, but it tastes damn good.

Shots aren’t the only use Fernet has. It is also a good cocktail ingredient. It pairs well with a variety of spirits. Wanna mix Fernet?

Let’s take a look at the Brandy Manhattan, courtesy of Fernet Branca. If you want to know How To Make A Perfect Manhattan, check last week’s post.

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Brandy Manhattan

Recipe

2 oz. of Stravecchio Branca (Instead of Whisky)
1 oz. Carpano Antica Formula (DA best Vermouth)
A couple drops of Fernet-Branca (No Angostura? Cool)

Preparation

Pour all the ingredients into a mixing glass, stir for a few seconds, then pour the mixture into a glass, filtering out the ice.

Garnish: Orange peel and a Cocktail Cherry

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More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

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The Curious Cocktailian

Joseph Plant is a blogger, bartender, musician and anthropology student living in Canada.

2 thoughts on “Fernet Branca

AsmarPosted on  7:25 am - Apr 13, 2017

Hey Joseph! Thanks for this delight man. I really like the layout and tone of your site!!! If you’re ever in the states, Florida specifically, I’d love to connect.

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