Fernet Branca is a digestif amaro invented in 1845 by Bernardino Branca in Milan, Italy. The formula, like many amari, is a closely held secret - but supposedly contains everything from myrrh, chamomile, aloe, bay leaves, to galangal, and zedoary. It spends a year in oak barrels. The "Eagle and Globe" logo dates to 1893.
Fernet is a style of amaro — generally the most bitter and least sweet.
Fernet Branca is dark brown, opaque, strongly menthol-flavored, and complexly herbal smelling. It's also incredibly bitter, with very little balancing sweetness found in other amari. As such, it's fantastic after a large meal, and it's become popular as sort of a shibboleth among professional drinkers. Have a cocktail or two at your favorite bar, then ask your bartender if they'll join you in a shot of Fernet Branca and bask in the good vibes you've just created.
In small doses, Fernet Branca can give a medicinal, spicy backbone to cocktails.
Some popular cocktails containing Fernet Branca
- Sun Stealer — Gin, Sweet vermouth, Fernet Branca, Crème de Cacao, Orange bitters, Lemon peel
- Kingston Club — Drambuie, Fernet Branca, Bitters, Pineapple juice, Club soda, Lime juice, Orange peel
- Mesoamerica — Xtabentun, Fernet Branca, Bitters
- Bernet Frankenstein — Islay Scotch, Sweet vermouth, Fernet Branca, Mint
- Appetizer a l'italienne (Revised) — Sweet vermouth, Fernet Branca, Pastis, Lemon