Fernet-Branca

The festive season is always the perfect time for some tipple, so this week we tell you more about one of the South American spirits of choice – Fernet-Branca.

Fernet is the national drink of Argentina, and an incredible 75% of the global supply is consumed there; Argentinians truly love it, Fazendeiros.

What is Fernet-Branca?

Fernet-Branca is the world’s most popular brand of fernet, a spirit that is usually around 40% abv. It’s known for its strong, rooty, medicinal flavour which – to be honest – is very polarising for lots of people.

It's a great traditional-style bottle

It’s a great traditional-style bottle

Its popularity – in the world of fernet – is often compared to the popularity of Coca-Cola – it’s simply considered to be the best brand in its category.

History

Interestingly, fernet actually started life as a natural medicine, and was marketed as a treatment for cholera. Despite now knowing that it never actually worked, it’s what sparked the popularity of the spirit before people began to drink it recreationally.

Originating in Milan, Fernet-Branca was the first brand to be openly sold to consumers as a recreational drink in 1845. The recipe was slightly modified to make it more palatable to most people.

Fernet

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The bitters are made from 27 herbs, the recipe of which is a highly-guarded secret. It’s such a big secret that the president of the company, Niccolò Branca, actually personally measures out the aromatics, as he’s the only person that knows the exact formula. 5 of these 27 ingredients are mixed in a locked room, further adding to the mystery and charm of this unique spirit.

There is one ingredient in Fernet-Branca that we can be certain about though – saffron. The company uses a mind-boggling 75% of the world’s global supply!

How it’s Enjoyed

Fernet-Braca is usually consumed straight, with the majority of drinkers enjoying its untampered, strong warmth.

Fernet-Branca

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Obviously, drinking spirits neat isn’t for everyone. That’s why it’s also popular to drink fernet with cola, giving a much sweeter taste with a slightly medicinal finish. The popularity of fernet skyrocketed in the 1990s, due to a marketing campaign that positioned it as a Coca-Cola cocktail. It was commonly ordered as a ’90-2-10′ as it was one-tenth fernet, nine-tenths cola, and finished with 2 ice cubes.

A classic example of a fernet & coke

A classic example of a 90-2-10 (Image credit – Liz Clayman)

It’s also often mixed into cocktails as a supporting ingredient, such as the ‘Toronto‘, the first recorded cocktail to make use of fernet.

Have you ever tried this truly interesting spirit, Fazendeiros? We’d love to hear your thoughts about it over on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.