Branca Menta is a mint version of Fernet Branca and therefore belongs to the category of amaro liqueurs. The liqueur is produced according to an old family recipe of the Fratelli Branca distillery in Milan. It contains 30% of alcohol (60 proof), making it lower in alcohol than their standard Fernet. Actually, the name is written in one word - Brancamenta. But since Brancamenta is written on a wrapped bottle label, the alternative spelling Branca Menta came up and established itself.
Fernet Branca Menta was invented in the 1960s when more fashion-interested ladies began to order Fernet with mint syrup adding minty sweetness to the bold herbal flavors. The reason for this trend was the Greek singer Maria Callas. She used to enjoy her Fernet Branca with mint - a Fernet Branca alla menta as she called it. Since Callas was a style and fashion icon in her time, it's hardly surprising that suddenly oodles of young ladies started ordering the minty drink.
How to drink Branca Menta
Branca Menta is often consumed as a digestif served on the rocks. The balanced and refined flavor profile of the minty Amaro variety makes it great for sipping.
Any liquor with that much depth of flavor is fantastic in mixed drinks and cocktails. No wonder Branca Sprite has established itself as the counterpart to the famous Fernet Coca. The highball drink makes a refreshing minty alcoholic beverage in combination with the popular lemon-lime soda. And there are more cocktails asking for Brancamenta.
Brancamenta is a variation of the famous Fernet Branca Amaro. The secret recipe includes 30 different herbs and spices that are enhanced with mint essential oil (menthol oil) and peppermint. And just like the original liqueur, it ages and matures for 12 months in oak vats before it's bottled.
How does it taste
When taking a sip of Branca Menta, it tastes like a variation of the classic Fernet Branca mixed with peppermint liqueur. Yet, it is much more refined and balanced compared to what you get when mixing the original Fernet Branca with mint flavors.
It contains less alcohol, tastes sweeter, and has a strong minty flavor. The flavor profile is still complex and full of herbal flavors with a firm bitterness but is much more approachable.
Branca Menta in cocktails
Cocktails made with Branca Menta are packed with flavor. Most recipes contain one or even two additional ingredients that have equally intense flavors. Think of Becherovka, Absinthe, Tequila, Chartreuse, and so on. Below is an overview of my favorite Branca Menta cocktails:
- Brancolada: Made of Branca Menta, cream of coconut, Jamaican rum, pineapple juice, and mint.
- El Chapulin: Tequila Blanco, Brancamenta, Crème de cacao, Absinthe, cocktail bitters, and mint.
- Chartreuse Colada: Green Chartreuse, Jamaican Rum, pineapple juice, Branca Menta, cream of coconut, and mint.
- Praying Mantis: Stout, Brancamenta, Amaro Averna, dark Crème de Cacao, mint cocktail bitters, and a whole egg.
The best substitutes for Brancamenta are either Crème de Menthe or Riga Black Balsam mint & chocolate. But since the latter is usually even harder to get, Crème de Menthe is your best option. It works even better when you mix it 50/50 with traditional Amari like Amaro Averna or Amaro Montenegro. That way, you get the minty notes along with the typical herbaceous taste.
While Fernet Branca is widely available, Branca Menta can be hard to get. Depending on your location, you might need to look for an alternative to the minty herbal liqueur. Unfortunately, and to be frank, that's easier said than done. There are not many products with comparable flavors available.