A Fernandito is served in a tall Highball glass over plenty of ice. And the original name of it is a lot more descriptive and straightforward: Fernet con Coca. But Fernandito became official when the IBA listed the drink under that name.
Fernet con Coca literally translates to Fernet with Coke. But what sounds a little bland and trivial is, in fact, the national cocktail of a large country: Argentina.
And despite Fernet Branca being an Italian bitter, the Fernandito cocktail or Fernet con Coca also originates in Argentina.
Italians brought Fernet to Argentina
The success of the Fernandito cocktail started in the early 20th century when Italian immigrants brought Fernet into the country. From then on, consumption of Fernet grew steadily.
There is no written documentation on how and why the spirit was such a huge success. But in 1941, Fernet decided to build a separate distillery in Buenos Aires to keep up with the demand.
For a very long time, Fernet was consumed mainly as an aperitif and digestif. And that's still the standard way to drink it in Europe.
But in Argentina, in the 1990s, that changed dramatically when the Fernandito suddenly became more and more popular.
History of the Fernandito
People say that the drink got invented during the 1950s in Cordoba, the second-largest city in Argentina, as a riff on the more subtle Fernet and soda. But there are many other possible stories about who and when the drink got made the first time.
Yet, what is known is that in the 80s, the Fernandito cocktail became widely popular in the Cordoba Province. After that, it took only a few more years until the drink became a nation's favorite.
But that wouldn't have happened without the efforts of the Fernet Branca brand and Coca-Cola.
Marketing campaigns by Fernet and Coca-Cola
Once Fernet realized what was happening in Argentina, their marketing team came up with an idea. They started promoting drinking it with coke. First, without Coca-Cola's support, but later both ran co-branded campaigns.
One of the biggest marketing stunts was when Fernet handed out samples in bars, popular coastal towns, and distinctive landscapes like the Perito Moreno glacier.
These campaigns were super successful. In fact, they were considered one of the most effective marketing strategies in the whole of Argentina.
From there on, the success of the Fernandito had no limits. And nowadays, you can't go anywhere without bumping into this iconic drink.
Argentina's favorite cocktail
No matter where you go in Argentina, Fernet con Coca is there, too. It's by far the most popular cocktail in the country.
To inexperienced Fernandito drinkers, the flavor profile might be quite something else. The Fernandito cocktail is bittersweet, minty, and herbaceous. A pretty complex profile considering there are only two ingredients in the drink.
Argentinians love it, no matter at what time of the day. They drink it Saturday night when they're out partying. And if feeling hungover on Sunday, they counter the headache with a hearty slurp of the Fernandito.
Scientifically this doesn't work, but we all know what a little faith can do.
The drink became so popular that Argentina is now the leading country in the consumption of Fernet Brancaby far. Sounds unlikely? Well, it is true.
These days, Argentina is responsible for over 75% of the global Fernet Branca consumption. And because it's so famous there, Fernet even opened a second distillery in Buenos Aires.
Additionally, as the second ingredient is Coca-Cola, the sales of coke are also way above average. To be precise, Argentinians consume four times the amount of the global average.
And these numbers are even more impressive if you count in that it's only due to the consumption of that one drink, the Fernandito cocktail.
About Fernet Branca
Fernet Branca, usually called Fernet, is an Amaro from Italy. Amaros are bitter and aromatic spirits made of different herbs and spices.
The base of Fernet is a distilled grape spirit, whereas the other ingredients can vary from time to time, according to the brand. Some known fixtures include myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, aloe, saffron, and cardamom.
If you want to know more about Fernet Branca, how to substitute it or their minty expression, read also:
- 2 oz Fernet Branca
- 6 oz Coke
- Fill a chilled Highball glass with plenty of ice and pour in the Fernet Branca.2 oz Fernet Branca
- Top up with coke and gently stir the drink before serving.6 oz Coke