Fernet (Italian pronunciation: [ferˈnɛt]) 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.
It is very popular in Argentina, where it was introduced by Italians during the Great European immigration wave to the country. It is particularly associated with Córdoba Province, which has been called "the world fernet capital"; almost 3 million litres are consumed there annually, representing just under 30 percent of national consumption. National production is around 25 million liters, 35% sold in Buenos Aires Province and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. Fratelli Branca is by far the most popular brand in the country, leading the market and reaching a "mythical" status. Other popular brands include 1882, Capri, Ramazzotti and Vittone. Fernet is commonly mixed with Coca-Cola, a drink commonly known as "Fernandito" or simply "Fernola". The massively popular drink was invented during the mid-1980s in Córdoba, encouraged by an advertisement by Fratelli Branca, and spread to Buenos Aires during the 1990s, its popularity growing steadily ever since. In fact, fernet has had the highest growth in consumption in the last 10 years. The popularity of fernet is so strong, that many bars in Buenos Aires have removed it from its menu to encourage consumption of more expensive drinks.
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
- "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.
- Petovel, Pablo (1 January 2013). "Todo lo que hay que saber sobre el fernet" (in Spanish). Día a Día. Contenidos Mediterráneos. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
- Marchetti, Nicolás (15 October 2015). "Eligieron el mejor fernet de Argentina y no es el que estás pensando" (in Spanish). La Voz del Interior. Clarín Group. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
- "El fenómeno fernet". Clarín (in Spanish). Retrieved 2014-08-11.
- "Los argentinos vuelven al vermouth y al whisky importado". Clarín (in Spanish).
- "EBranca reconoce que la mezcla de fernet con Coca nació en Córdoba" (in Spanish). La Voz del Interior. Clarín Group. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
- 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.
- Vecino, Diego. "Fernet: una historia de amor argentina". Conexión Brando. La Nación. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
- Curtis, Wayne (November 2008). "The Bitter Beginning: Learning to love a bracing Italian liqueur". The Atlantic.
- 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.
- Shipnuck, Alan (2009-04-20). "Angel Cabrera emerged from a drama-filled final round at the Masters with his second major title". Golf.com. Retrieved 2015-09-13.