For the last few years, parts of the US (largely San Francisco) has been blown away by a seemingly new Italian liquor called Fernet. It’s come up in several works of literature and films like The Dark Knight where Batman’s butler Alfred is seen sipping on a Fernet Branca. Another ‘hipster’ trend, you may think but Fernet might be more than just a fad.
It may be a new name to us but the liquor actually has its roots set in the 1800s. It was initially created for medicinal purposes but gradually gained a place in most households as a post-dinner digestif. It’s a popular Amaro (bitter) liquor commonly found in Italy and also in Argentina after it was brought in by the Italians during the Great European Migration Wave.With a grape distilled spirit as the base, fernet is packed with over 40 herbs and spices including myrrh, saffron, cardamom, chamomile, aloe and rhubarb. No one knows the exact ingredients and the proportion as the producers guard their secret well. This, of course, leads to multiple variants. But overall, fernet has a thick texture and a bitter taste and is an acquired taste. While it’s mostly consumed neat, some turn in into a Negroni of sorts in combination with gin, vermouth and orange bitters.
Fernet has 45% abv and is also sometimes mixed with coffee or espresso. You can serve it at room temperature or with ice, as per your own preferences. It has been compared to Absinthe by some but with none of the alternate effects. Jagermeister may be a closer comparison but there really isn’t anything like Fernet. It might be a good idea to procure a bottle on one of your travels.
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