Fernet (Italian pronunciation: [fɛrˈnɛt]) is an Italian type of amaro, a bitter, aromatic spirit. Fernet is made from a number of herbs and spices which vary according to the brand, but usually include myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and especially saffron, with a base of grape distilled spirits, and colored with caramel coloring.
Fernet is usually served as a digestif after a meal but may also be served with coffee and espresso or mixed into coffee and espresso drinks. It typically contains 45% alcohol by volume. It may be served at room temperature or with ice. A mint-flavored version of fernet is also available.
Fernet is very popular in Argentina, where the production is around 25 million liters, 35% sold in Buenos Aires province and Federal District and 30% in Córdoba province (with a population of 3 million people). It is commonly mixed with cola, but it is also drunk with soda water (in an "old fashioned way"), or even neat.
The drink has been popular in the San Francisco Bay Area since before Prohibition. In 2008, San Francisco accounted for 25% of US consumption. San Francisco bars usually serve fernet as a shot followed by a ginger ale chaser.
Fernet can be mixed into cocktails, though the strong taste can overwhelm other ingredients. It can replace bitters in recipes; for instance, the Fanciulli cocktail is a Manhattan with fernet instead of Angostura bitters.
The chef Fergus Henderson offers a recipe, entitled both "A Miracle" and "Dr. Henderson" that approximates Branca Menta by combining two parts fernet with one part crème de menthe over ice. The recipe describes this cocktail as a cure for overindulgence.
In popular culture
Fernet receives a mention in the novel Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald.[a] It forms the titular subject of James Hamilton-Paterson's 2004 novel of Tuscany expatriate life, Cooking with Fernet Branca  In the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred Pennyworth remembers himself sitting in Florence, Italy drinking a Fernet Branca. Fernet Branca (as Fernet-Branca) is mentioned in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.[b]
- "Silence while he stared at a shelf that held the humbler poisons of France—bottles of Otard, Rhum St. James, Marie Brizzard, Punch Orangeade, Andre Fernet Blanco, Cherry Rochet, and Armagnac."
- "Hobie had an iron constitution; whenever he came down with anything himself, he drank a Fernet-Branca and kept going."
- Cavalieri, Nate (2005-12-07). "The Myth of Fernet". SF Weekly. Archived from the original on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 2010.
- "El fenómeno fernet". Clarín (in Spanish). Retrieved 2014-08-11.
- "Los argentinos vuelven al vermouth y al whisky importado". Clarín (in Spanish).
- Rathbun, A. J. (2009). Dark Spirits: 200 Classy Concoctions Starring Bourbon, Brandy, Scotch, Whiskey, Rum and More. Harvard Common Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-1-55832-427-5.
- Curtis, Wayne (November 2008). "The Bitter Beginning: Learning to love a bracing Italian liqueur". The Atlantic.
- Shipnuck, Alan (2007-06-20). "Grand Opening". Golf.com. Retrieved 2007-08-07.
- Felten, Eric (2009-01-03). "Making Bitter Fernet-Branca Much Easier to Swallow". Wall Street Journal.
- Henderson, Fergus (April 2004). The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating. Ecco. ISBN 0-06-058536-6.
- Michael Dibdin (19 June 2004). "Strange brew". The Guardian.
- Watercutter, Angela (2012-07-20). "9 Unintentional Dark Knight Rises Lessons". Wired.