Fernet Branca liqueur bottles

Fernet Branca

By Timo Torner / Last updated on June 11, 2022 
Fernet Branca is an Italian herbal liqueur commonly consumed as a digestif. It's among the best-known Italian bitters and is especially popular in Argentina.

Fernet Branca is a liqueur of the Amaro category. Amaros are Italian herbal liqueurs and popular digestif. And to be precise, Fernet-Branca is part of a subtype of this category - the Fernets. And this subtype has managed to gather something almost resembling a cult following in some places.

The bitter herbal liqueur is particularly popular in Argentina. The South American country is responsible for no less than 75% of the world's Fernet consumption. Most of it is sold and bought in the capital, Buenos Aires, and the province with the same name.

But what makes Fernet and Fernet-Branca so special? And what is the difference to other Amari? Let's have a look at the story of this interesting herbal liqueur. And let's start with what makes it so different.

Difference between Fernet and other Amaro

Fernet is a subtype of the Amaro liqueurs. Both are herbal liqueurs consisting of various herbs, roots, plants, and spices. For one thing, a Fernet commonly has a higher ABV than other Amaros - usually around 40%.

But the main difference is that Fernet is far less sweet. In fact, some types are not sweet at all.

There's also a sweeter, mint-forward version of Fernet available called Branca Menta. This version is not only sweeter but lighter in ABV, making it a lot easier to sip.

What is Fernet Branca?

Fernet Branca is the best-known representative of the Fernet category, and it contains 27 different botanicals. Like many other Amari, it initially got used as a medicine. In the case of Fernet Branca, it should cure Cholera as well as menstrual cramps. But that's long in the past, and today it's consumed for enjoyment, usually as a digestif.

The exact recipe of Fernet Branca is a secret. However, several sources reported that Chinese rhubarb, gentian, myrrh, saffron, Chamomile, Galanga, bitter aloe, cinchona, quinine, and angelica are among the ingredients.

Unlike many other Fernets and Amaros, Fernet Branca ages in barrels before getting bottled. For this, the herbal liqueur matures in Slovakian and Eastern European oak barrels for a whole year. That aging process brings oaky notes of the barrel into the liqueur and intensifies the other flavors.

History of Fernet Branca

In 1845, Bernardino Branca first formulated the complete recipe of Fernet Branca and distilled it in the Fratelli Branca Distillery. His herbal creation was known for its medical properties and soon gained vast popularity. Additionally, the brand started heavily marketing the product. Then, in the very late 1800s, the brand's famous logo was designed by the Italian artist Leopoldo Metlicovitz. Until today, the logo showing an eagle, a bottle of Fernet Branca, and a globe is the identification mark of the brand.

A few years later, in 1907, Fernet-Branca started exporting to Argentina. The initial goal was to supply Italian immigrants with the bitter liqueur. What happened then appears nothing short of a miracle. The liqueur became so popular that only 18 years later, the brand opened a distillery in Buenos Aires. It was and stays the first and only distillery outside Italy until today. And the love for Fernet only grew from then. Today, 75% of the world's Fernet consumption is attributed to Argentina.

Recently, the dry herbal liqueur also gained traction amongst craft bartenders. The so-called "bartender's handshake" is a popular shot when groups of bartenders meet up. Especially in San Francisco, Fernet is receiving more and more love.

The taste of Fernet Branca

Fernet Branca has a truly unique taste. Poured into a glass, you will see the dark brown and red color paired with aromas of peppermint, licorice, and spice.

The first sip is strong and very minty. One can taste notes of mint tea, chamomile, and also roots. The aftertaste is quite bitter with lots of minty notes and just a touch of fruity prune notes.

Overall the taste is very herbaceous and quite bitter with only a slight sweetness.

If you're looking for an alternative to this specific Fernet, you can find suitable substitutes for Fernet Branca here.

How to drink Fernet Branca

Bartenders, especially the folks from San Francisco, prefer Fernet Branca neat and serve it as a shot. However, that is not the proper Italian way to drink it. Like many other Amari, you should serve Fernet Branca over ice with a slice of lemon or orange. If you don't want to drink it neat, you can also mix it with other ingredients in a cocktail or highball.

The most popular beverage is probably the Fernet and coke, also called the Fernandito. This simple two-ingredient drink is mainly consumed in Argentina and is the chief reason for the high consumption of Fernet in the country. But it's also quite common in other Southern American countries. Once you try the long drink, you might understand why Argentinians love the bitter herbal liqueur so much.

But also classic cocktails like the Hanky Panky make use of the flavorful Fernet. Invented in the 1920s by Ada Coleman, the Hanky Panky is a perfect drink to experience the deep flavors that lie in Fernet Branca. Other popular Fernet Branca cocktails are the Fernet Sour and the Toronto cocktail.

Subscribe to Cocktail Society!

Receive our latest recipes, reviews, and insights - straight to your inbox.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Posts

Crème liqueurs

Top Crème Liqueurs

Read More
Best Amaro

Amaro - The 12 Top Italian Herbal liquers

Read More
Fruit liqueurs

12 Popular Fruit Liqueurs

Read More
Cointreau vs Grand Marnier

Cointreau vs Grand Marnier

Read More
Disaronno Amaretto Originale

Disaronno Amaretto Originale

Read More
Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge Header

Grand Marnier Liqueur

Read More
Privacy PolicyContactAbout us
Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com.