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Typeamaro bitter (fernet)
ManufacturerFratelli Branca Distillerie
Country of originMilan, Italy
Alcohol by volume39%

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

Production history[edit]

Fernet-Branca was formulated in Milan in 1845 by self-taught herbalist Bernardino Branca. It was marketed as a cure for cholera, stomach ache, and nervous disorders.[citation needed] 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. The eagle-and-globe logo was designed in 1893.

In 1907, Fratelli Branca began exporting their fernet to Argentina. Eventually the drink became so popular there that Fratelli Branca established a distillery in Buenos Aires.[when?]

The drink didn't attain significant popularity in the United States until after World War II.[citation needed] In 1960 production from the American distillery reached 60,000 cases.[citation needed]


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. The exact formula is a trade secret known only to the Fernet-Branca president, Niccolò Branca, who personally measures out the aromatics during the production process.[citation needed] It is known that the beverage contains aloe ferox (bitter aloe), gentian (a bittering agent), chamomile, angelica, quinine, chinese rhubarb, myrrh, peppermint, saffron.[citation needed]

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.[6]

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",[7] the "Fanciulli", and the more prolific "Hanky Panky".

In Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay, "Fernet con Coca"—Fernet-Branca with Coca-Cola—is a popular refreshment.[8]

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"[6].

In popular culture[edit]

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.[2][3][4][5]
  1. ^ Lichine, Alexis (1987). New Encyclopedia of Wines & Spirits (6th ed.). p. 233. ISBN 978-0304311248.
  2. ^ "Fernet-Branca History".
  3. ^ "Fernet-Branca: a brand history". The Spirits Business. 14 February 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  4. ^ Cavalieri, Nate (7 December 2005). "The Myth of Fernet". SF Weekly. Archived from the original on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  5. ^ Curtis, Wayne (2008-11-01). "The Bitter Beginning". The Atlantic.
  6. ^ a b "The Fuss About Fernet-Branca". Drink Spirits. 3 November 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  7. ^ Flack, Derek (2017-08-23). "Toronto's namesake cocktail is the best drink you've never had". blogTO.
  8. ^ Caro, Rebecca. "Argentinean Mixology: Fernet and Coke". From Argentina With Love. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  9. ^ Along With the Dark Knight, Fernet Branca Also Rises The Drink Nation. Retrieved November 03, 2015.
  10. ^ Drzal, Dawn (2015-12-18). "From a Tuscan Kitchen". The New York Times. New York, NY. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  11. ^ Christopher, Ross (2011-06-21). "Are Italian Digestifs the New Courvoisier? Check the Rap Dedicated to Fernet-Branca". Culture. Details Magazine. Retrieved 2015-11-03.

External links[edit]