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Typeamaro bitter (fernet)
ManufacturerFratelli Branca Distillerie
Country of originMilan, Italy
Alcohol by volume39%
Websitewww.fernetbranca.com Edit this on Wikidata

Fernet-Branca (Italian pronunciation: [ferˌnɛt ˈbraŋka]) is a brand of fernet, which is a style of amaro originating in Italy. Manufactured by Fratelli Branca and formulated in Milan in 1845, it is one of the best known of Italian bitters.[1]

Production history[edit]

Fernet-Branca was formulated in Milan in 1845 by self-taught herbalist Bernardino Branca.[2] It was initially marketed as a cure for cholera[3] and for menstrual cramps.[2] The brand soon gained popularity,[when?] leading to the founding of the Fratelli Branca Distillery.[citation needed] Fratelli Branca invested in extensive advertising campaigns including the creation of calendars with artworks from famous artists in 1886.[4] The brand's famous eagle-and-globe logo was designed in 1893 by Leopoldo Metlicovitz.[5]

In 1907, Fratelli Branca began exporting their fernet to Argentina. Eventually the drink became so popular there that Fratelli Branca established a distillery in 1925 in Buenos Aires.[6] In the United States the drink became popular after the passage of prohibition laws in 1919, with it sold in pharmacies as a medicinal product.[7][2] By 1936 Branca had set up a branch office in Tribeca, New York to satisfy American demand.[2][8] The popularity of the drink in America continued into the 1960s, with production peaking at 60,000 cases in 1960.[2]


Fernet and Coke, common in Uruguay and Argentina

Fernet-Branca has been produced according to the original recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation.[a] The bitters are made from 27 herbs and other ingredients;[12] its complete formula is a trade secret. Source have reported its recipe includes chinese rhubarb, aloe ferox (bitter aloe), cinchona, chocolate,[13] quinine[14] and angelica.[15] The Branca Distillery states on its web site that the drink contains "Rhubarb from China, Gentian from France, Galanga from India or from Sri Lanka, (and) Chamomile from Europe of Argentina",[16] as well as linden (tiliae flos), iris, saffron, zedoary, myrrh and cinchona.[17]

Fernet-Branca has a higher ABV—39%—and lower sugar content than most other amari.[citation needed] Fernet-Branca is one of the few amari to be aged in a barrel for a full year.[18]

The manufacturer also offers a sweeter, mint-flavored liqueur, Branca Menta.


Fernet-Branca is often consumed neat as a digestif, typically served in a cordial glass, or as a mixing component (usually supportive and not as the primary ingredient) in cocktails such as the "Toronto",[19] the "Fanciulli", and the more prolific "Hanky Panky".

In Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay, fernet con coca—Fernet-Branca with Coca-Cola—is a popular drink.[20] The cocktail is extremely popular in Argentina,[21] with some statistics reporting that the country consumes more than 75% of all fernet produced globally.[22]

In the U.S., Fernet-Branca is branded as a tribal rite of passage drink for craft bartenders, and has been referred to as "The Bartender’s Handshake".[18][23] It is also notably popular in San Francisco, California, which consumes 35% of all Fernet-Branca imported into the U.S.[24]

In popular culture[edit]

Advertisement for the Argentine Centennial, 1910

Notes & references[edit]

  1. ^ After the Psychotropic Substances Act (United States) was passed in 1978, the recipe was changed in order to bring opiates down to legal levels.[9][10][2][11]
  1. ^ Lichine, Alexis (1987). New Encyclopedia of Wines & Spirits (6th ed.). p. 233. ISBN 978-0304311248.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cavalieri, Nate (7 December 2005). "The Myth of Fernet". SF Weekly. Archived from the original on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  3. ^ Parsons, Brad Thomas (11 October 2016). Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas. Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale. ISBN 978-1-60774-749-9.
  4. ^ "The "spirited" art of Fernet Branca's calendars". Italian Ways. 22 January 2014.
  5. ^ Times, Gordon Kendall Special to The Roanoke. "Good Libations: The Curious Case of Fernet Branca". Roanoke Times.
  6. ^ "Frateli Branca Destilerías - Institucional". 31 May 2020. Con las migraciones italianas de fines del siglo XIX llegó Fernet Branca a la Argentina. Debido a su gran aceptación, la compañía decidió en 1925 que la empresa Hofer & C. de Buenos Aires -concesionaria exclusiva para la venta del famoso “amaro” italiano- elaborara la bebida a partir del extracto enviado desde la casa matriz italiana.
  7. ^ Maier, Kathryn. "Ten Fascinating Facts About Fernet-Branca We Learned During Its 'Storied Sips' Book Tour". Culture Truip. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  8. ^ Beverage Media. Beverage Media, Limited. May 1999.
  9. ^ "An Amaro That Will Make History". 17 July 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Fernet-Branca: a brand history". The Spirits Business. 14 February 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  11. ^ Curtis, Wayne (1 November 2008). "The Bitter Beginning". The Atlantic.
  12. ^ Rathbun, A. J. (12 September 2007). Good Spirits: Recipes, Revelations, Refreshments, and Romance, Shaken and Served with a Twist. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-1-55832-336-0.
  13. ^ Maier, Kathryn. "Ten Fascinating Facts About Fernet-Branca We Learned During Its "Storied Sips" Book Tour". theculturetrip.com.
  14. ^ Bruce-Gardyne, Tom. "Fernet-Branca: a brand history". thespiritsbusiness.com.
  15. ^ Allen, Gary (October 2010). The Herbalist in the Kitchen. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-09039-4.
  16. ^ "Fernet-Branca". Fratelli Branca.
  17. ^ "The Secret Recipe". Fernet-Branca.
  18. ^ a b "The Fuss About Fernet-Branca". Drink Spirits. 3 November 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  19. ^ Flack, Derek (23 August 2017). "Toronto's namesake cocktail is the best drink you've never had". blogTO.
  20. ^ Caro, Rebecca. "Argentinean Mixology: Fernet and Coke". From Argentina With Love. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  21. ^ Zanoni, Elizabeth (21 March 2018). Migrant Marketplaces: Food and Italians in North and South America. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-05032-9.
  22. ^ Lahrichi, Kamilia (14 March 2017). "Argentina loves its Fernet, a bitter Italian liquor". CNN. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  23. ^ Schuster, Amanda (12 September 2017). New York Cocktails: An Elegant Collection of over 100 Recipes Inspired by the Big Apple. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781604337297.
  24. ^ Reilly, Laura (26 August 2016). "Why San Francisco Drinks More Fernet Than Anyone in America". Thrillist.
  25. ^ Along With the Dark Knight, Fernet Branca Also Rises The Drink Nation. Retrieved November 03, 2015.
  26. ^ Drzal, Dawn (18 December 2015). "From a Tuscan Kitchen". The New York Times. New York, NY. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  27. ^ Christopher, Ross (21 June 2011). "Are Italian Digestifs the New Courvoisier? Check the Rap Dedicated to Fernet-Branca". Culture. Details Magazine. Retrieved 3 November 2015.

External links[edit]