Fernet Branca is an Italian liqueur that is nothing short of legendary. People either love it or hate it, but most of what I see is unbridled love. One tweet I saw just said “Fernet Branca…My Religion!!!!#AMEN” Its ingredient list is mysterious, though legend holds that Fernet Branca might contain codeine, echinacea, coca leaves, saffron, ginseng, or my favorite: ground-up fly wings.
Fernet is herbal, minty, syrupy, and finishes pretty dry for a liqueur. It’s 80 proof, which is as strong as a vodka or gin, and mint is by far the most prevalent smell and taste. I’ve been enjoying Fernet and the flavor is unique enough that I want to make sure I keep the home bar stocked with it. Fernet’s legend adds to the fun of the drink, but you should try a glass before you commit to a full bottle, because it’s a very intense herbal experience.
Because of its distinctive flavor, Fernet Branca is typically accompanied by a soda. In Argentina, Fernet and Coke is the rage. In San Francisco, who consumes 25% of all US Fernet Branca, it’s taken as a shot with a ginger ale chaser. I found that Fernet tastes like Fernet regardless of it’s mixture, and I have been enjoying it over ice after dinner or late at night. Fernet Branca will run you about $20-30 a bottle.