Branca Menta is an Amaro with a delicate minty note. It is produced according to an old family recipe of the Fratelli Branca distillery in Milan. 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.
The Amaro was invented in the 1960s, when more and more fashion interested ladies began to order Fernet with mint syrup. 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.
Ingredients of Branca Menta
Brancamenta is based on the traditional recipe of the famous Fernet Branca Amaro. The secret recipe including 30 different herbs and spices gets enhanced with 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
The best way to describe the taste of Branca Menta is a minty Amaro. Yet, it is much more refined and balanced compared to what you get when mixing the original Fernet Branca with mint. It contains less alcohol, tastes sweeter, and has a strong minty taste. The liqueur is still complex and full of herbal flavors but is much more approachable.
How to drink Branca Menta
The balanced and refined taste of the minty Amaro makes it great for sipping. It's often consumed as a digestif served on the rocks.
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 out of the famous lemon-lime soda. And there are more cocktails asking for Brancamenta.
Branca Menta 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.
While Fernet Branca is widely available, Branca Menta can be quite hard to get. Depending on your location, you might need to look for an alternative to the minty Amaro. Unfortunately, and to be frank, that's easier said than done. There are not many products with comparable flavors available.
In my opinion, 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 a traditional amaro like Amaro Averna or Amaro Montenegro. That way, you get the minty notes along with the typical herbaceous taste.