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Fernet drinks products.

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,[1] 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's smell has been described as "like black licorice-flavored Listerine".[1]


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).[2][3] It is commonly mixed with cola,[4] 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.[1] In 2008, San Francisco accounted for 25% of US consumption.[5] San Francisco bars usually serve fernet as a shot followed by a ginger ale chaser.[1]


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.[6]

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.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

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 [8]

In the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred Pennyworth remembers himself sitting in Florence, Italy drinking a Fernet Branca.[9]

Fernet Branca (as Fernet-Branca) is mentioned in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.[b]

Fernet was reported to be the favorite drink of 2007 U.S. Open (golf) winner Ángel Cabrera.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "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."
  2. ^ "Hobie had an iron constitution; whenever he came down with anything himself, he drank a Fernet-Branca and kept going."


  1. ^ a b c d Cavalieri, Nate (2005-12-07). "The Myth of Fernet". SF Weekly. Archived from the original on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 2010. 
  2. ^ "El fenómeno fernet". Clarín (in Spanish). Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  3. ^ "Los argentinos vuelven al vermouth y al whisky importado". Clarín (in Spanish). 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Curtis, Wayne (November 2008). "The Bitter Beginning: Learning to love a bracing Italian liqueur". The Atlantic. 
  6. ^ Felten, Eric (2009-01-03). "Making Bitter Fernet-Branca Much Easier to Swallow". Wall Street Journal. 
  7. ^ Henderson, Fergus (April 2004). The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating. Ecco. ISBN 0-06-058536-6. 
  8. ^ Michael Dibdin (19 June 2004). "Strange brew". The Guardian. 
  9. ^ Watercutter, Angela (2012-07-20). "9 Unintentional Dark Knight Rises Lessons". Wired. 
  10. ^ 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.