Fernet Branca is by far the most popular representative of the Fernet category. It tastes very bitter and herbal, with a strong taste of mint and anise. But how can you replace Fernet Branca if you don't have it at home?
If you don't have Fernet Branca handy, the best alternatives are other Fernets like Fernet Stock from Czechia and Fernet Luxardo. But there are more herbal liqueurs you can use as a substitute.
To get a better overview, read the details of the best alternatives to Fernet Branca below. Each substitute has a short description and taste review to find the perfect replacement for your needs.
What is Fernet Branca?
Fernet Branca is a herbal bitter liqueur from Italy. It belongs to the Fernet category, which, in turn, is a subcategory of Amaro liqueurs. It is a specific style of Amaro liqueur, typically sharper with a higher amount of alcohol; Most Fernets clock in at 45%.
The recipe for this Fernet was invented by herbalist Bernardino Branca back in 1845 as a medical treatment. And for the first years, the purpose of Fernet-Branca was to cure menstrual cramps and even cholera.
The brand and product gained traction quickly. In 1907 Bernardino Branca started exporting the liqueur to Italian ex-pats living in Argentina. In hindsight, this was -even though unintentional- one of the best moves in the spirit business. Fernet-Branca became crazy successful in Argentina. The country's national drink Fernandito is a mix of Fernet and coke.
Due to the popularity of Fernet con coca, as the Fernandito also is called, the brand sells vast amounts of its liqueur in Latin American countries.
Argentina alone consumes more than 75% of all Fernet produced globally.
The 5 best substitutes for Fernet Branca
There are countless herbal liqueurs and Amaros on the shelves of our supermarket. But I will list only the very best alternatives for Fernet Branca.
Generally, there's no number one perfect replacement. Some are better neat others shine in cocktails. So, here are the best Fernet-Branca substitutes.
Just like the product from Branca, Fernet Luxardo is a liqueur from Italy. And Luxardo has been producing this take on a Fernet since 1889.
The secret to the taste of Fernet Luxardo is an extended infusion time. Ingredients like gentian roots, cardamom, licorice, and saffron get enough time to infuse.
If you want to mix cocktails, Fernet Luxardo is probably the best alternative to Fernet Branca. It has a similar flavor profile and alcohol content (ABV 40%).
This Fernet is from the Czech Republic. Actually, the country is famous for its herbal liqueur called Becherovka and not for producing quality Fernet. So how did this come to the Czech Republic?
The founder of the company Camis & Stock is Italian Lionello Stock. He established the company in Trieste, Italy but began producing near Plzeň by the end of World War I.
Fernet Stock is infused with 14 different herbs and clocks in at 40%. In a mixed drink, this Fernet is another outstanding alternative.
Unicum Zwack is to Hungarians what Riga Black Balsam is to Latvians. An intensely flavored herbal liqueur, dark in color and quite bitter in taste. Both are said to be miraculous cures for colds during cold winters.
Even though it's not a Fernet, tastewise, Unicum Zwack is a fantastic replacement for mixed drinks.
However, when served neat, you will taste the difference. -The herbal ingredients used in Unicum Zwack are much different from those in Fernet Branca.
Despite not being the best replacement for sipping, the quality of the liqueur is amazing. The infusion of more than 40 different herbal ingredients ages in oak barrels for six months to develop its intensely herbal flavor.
While everyone knows Campari or Aperol, most have never heard of Amaro Braulio. It certainly is not the most renowned Amaro there is.
This Amaro is produced in the Italian Alps, close to the Swiss border. Using regional herbs in the recipe, Amaro Braulio has a distinct taste - quite different from most other Amari.
It is sweet but intensely herbaceous, slightly floral, and has a minty kick, just like Fernet Branca has. It's an excellent replacement for mixed drinks but an even better alternative if you intend to drink it neat.
Branca Menta is another product from Branca. Based on Fernet, it's a natural choice as a Fernet Branca substitute. However, Branca Menta is much sweeter and mintier than the standard bottle.
Combined with a lower amount of alcohol, the liqueur is not the best alternative for cocktails. However, if you're after a sipper, Branca Menta is outstanding.
Many people even prefer Branca Menta over the original because it isn't as harsh and intense.
Both Fernet and Campari belong to the category of Amaro liqueurs. That means both are bittersweet in taste with a strong herbal influence. However, tastewise, they're notably different.
Fernet Branca is a bitter liqueur but far from being the same as "bitters". Bitters, or cocktail bitters, are highly concentrated flavoring ingredients added to cocktail recipes in tiny quantities (drops, not ml). The taste can be similar to Fernet, but it's way more intense.
Both are herbal liqueurs with a bittersweet taste. But Fernet has much more pronounced bitter notes, intense anise flavors, and a touch of mint. In comparison, Jägermeister is more easy-to-drink.