Fernet con coca

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IBA official cocktail
Fernet and Coke (Fernet con Coca).jpg
A typical fernet con coca from Argentina
TypeMixed drink
Primary alcohol by volume
ServedOn the rocks; poured over ice
Standard drinkware
Old Fashioned Glass.svg
Old Fashioned glass
IBA specified
PreparationFill a double old-fashioned glass with ice. Pour in the Fernet-Branca, fill the glass with cola. Stir gently.
dagger Fernandito recipe at International Bartenders Association

Fernet con coca (Spanish pronunciation: [fɛɾ.ˈnɛt] or [fɛɾ.ˈne],[1] "Fernet and Coke"), also known as fernando,[2][3] its diminutive fernandito (Spanish pronunciation: [fɛɾ.nãn̪.ˈdi.to]),[4] or several other nicknames,[nb 1] is a long drink of Argentine origin consisting of the Italian amaro liqueur fernet and cola, served over ice. Although typically made with Fernet-Branca and Coca-Cola, several amaro brands have appeared in Argentina since its popularization, as well as ready-to-drink versions.

The cocktail first became popular among the youth of the college town of Córdoba, in the 1980s and—in part due to an advertising campaign led by Fratelli Branca—its consumption grew in popularity during the following decades to become widespread throughout the country, surpassed only by that of beer and wine. It is now considered a cultural icon of Argentina and is especially associated with its home province of Córdoba, where the drink is most consumed. The popularity of fernet con coca is such that Argentina consumes more than 75% of all fernet produced globally. The drink can also be found in some of its bordering countries, such as Uruguay and Bolivia.

In 2020, fernet con coca became the first Argentine drink to be recognized as an IBA official cocktail, listed under the name "fernandito" in the "new era drinks" category.[9][10]


Fernet-Branca advertisement from 1910, depicting an allegorical representation of Argentina, in honor of the Centennial celebrations
Fernet-Branca advertisement published in magazine Caras y Caretas in 1915, promoting its digestive benefits

Fernet was introduced to Argentina by Italians during the great European immigration wave to the country of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a period in Argentine history characterized by vast economic growth and rapid social change.[11][12] The popularity of fernet in Argentina is representative of the lasting influence Italian immigrants had in the broader consumer tastes and culture of the country.[13] Over many years, fernet consumption expanded in an unprecedented way throughout the Argentine territory, although this process is still "confusing and poorly documented".[14] In 1941, Fratelli Branca opened its first and only production plant outside Italy in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Parque Patricios,[12] which indicates that already at that time the fernet market in Argentina was considerable.[14] Another underground plant was opened in 1982 in Tortuguitas, Buenos Aires Province.[15] Before the combination with cola became widely popular in the 1990s and 2000s, fernet was traditionally consumed in the country as an apéritif and digestif, and was either drunk as an after-dinner shot, mixed with soda water or as part of a carajillo de fernet, in which some dashes of the bitter are added to a cup of coffee.[16][17]

Fernet-Branca advertisement published in magazine Caras y Caretas in 1920, showing a family having soda water and fernet, representing the bitter as a staple in homely life

Although the exact origin of the cocktail is poorly-documented and "somewhat shrouded in mythmaking",[4][18] it is generally agreed that it originated in Córdoba Province,[19][20] and is heavily associated with its capital of the same name, Argentina's second most populous city.[18][21] Some sources say that the cocktail already existed in the 1950s, as a "gentler" variation of the common combination of fernet and soda water,[4] while others affirm that it was invented in the 1970s by Oscar "el Negro" Becerra, a drummer and bartender from Cruz del Eje, a city in the province's northwest.[17][3] Another version suggests the drink was invented in Argentina's northern provinces.[4][22] Fernet con coca began to grow in popularity in Córdoba city during the 1980s, in the period that followed Argentina's return to democracy.[14] Although "theories swirl about who sparked fernet's explosion", most point to the city's large population of university students.[21] By the end of the decade, Fratelli Branca's marketing director noticed the drink's growing popularity in Córdoba and launched a series of national advertising campaigns actively encouraging the combination with Coca-Cola,[14][23] at first in an "implicit" agreement with The Coca-Cola Company and, between 1994 and 1997, as an official co-branding campaign.[22] Fratelli Branca head of marketing since 1992 Hernán Mutti told Fortune in 2016: "We had to convince Argentina that this was the way to drink fernet: to be shared between friends. It was being drunk behind closed doors; it wasn't a friendly product."[16] The company then "did everything to get people to try fernet and cola on any occasion",[23] promoting the drink with samplings at bars and events and in popular seaside towns along the coastline of the Atlantic, targeting people under the age of 25.[16] The tastings were accompanied by advertising connecting Fernet-Branca to distinctive national landscapes, like Patagonia's Perito Moreno glacier.[16] The campaign is considered one of the most successful marketing strategies in the country's recent history,[16] as it managed to "capture a still incipient consumption in a specific place in the country to popularize it and impose it in the daily life of Argentines."[14]

"[The myth of fernet con coca's popularization], at the end of the 20th century, works as an inversion of the civilizing flow the Argentine state had consolidated a century before: the dark and quarrelsome mix of Italian liquor and soda made its way from the periphery to the center and prevailed. And with it, an emotional economy of ethyl pleasure was also imposed, which harmonized with the end of the period and replaced the Menemist champagne[nb 2] with the post-convertibility fernet."

— Diego Vecino, Brando, 2011.[14]

In addition to the effective advertising campaign, the popularity of the drink has been linked to other coinciding phenomena: the diversification of the Argentine market for alcoholic beverages and the modernization of cuarteto, a style of popular music from Córdoba that expanded to Buenos Aires during the 1980s and 1990s,[14] spearheaded by singer Rodrigo's success.[26] Furthermore, between 1990 and 2010 the habits of Argentines were transformed as a result of a tumultous political and economic life, with BBC Mundo's Daniel Pardo writing: "First came the splurge, opulence, and cheap dollar of Carlos Menem's presidency, then a terrible economic crisis in 2001 that triggered poverty, and then three left-wing governments that, in the midst of an export boom, enriched (or subsidized) the poor."[3] Branca brand ambassador Nicola Olianas told the Spirits Business in 2017 that he "has obviously contemplated how to replicate the success in other markets, but wonders whether the conditions in Argentina were somehow unique, with the long-established distillery and the millions of emigré Italians."[23] By the year 2000, consumption had already consolidated in cities such as Tucumán, Mendoza and Buenos Aires,[14] and continued to grow despite the economic crisis of 2001.[20] On the contrary, since 2002 fernet's production and marketing underwent intense transformations, establishing itself as "one of the most striking phenomena in the entire region", making way for women and young people as new consumers and cementing its popularity at bars, parties, asados and gatherings.[14][27] In Buenos Aires alone, the drink's sales grew by 115% between 2001 and 2008.[14] By 2012, 40 million liters of fernet were produced per year, twice as much as in 2007.[27] According to a 2011 governmental report, fernet consumption in Argentina grew 251% during the 2000s, far ahead of beer's 60%.[28] Another study reported that during the period of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's presidencies—between 2004 and 2015—fernet consumption increased 405%, noting that "the kirchnerist decade could also be called 'the fernet decade'."[3] Fernet production in Argentina has been falling consistently since 2015, as part of a widespread economic downturn that began during Mauricio Macri's presidency.[29][30] Between 2015 and 2019, the Argentine production of fernet and bitters fell from 56.4 to 44.3 million annual liters.[29]


Fernet con coca is a simple, two-ingredient cocktail known for its gold-tinted foam and bittersweet taste.

Fernet con coca is a long drink,[12] usually served in a tall tumbler such as the highball.[31] Simple in composition, the two-ingredient cocktail comprises just its eponymous ingredients and ice.[17] The result is a black concoction with a "velvety", gold-tinted foam, and a complex and bittersweet taste that features competing and complementary flavors.[17] The exact proportions of each ingredient are debated, and people prepare the cocktail according to personal taste.[18] A popular measurement is three parts fernet and seven parts cola,[20][32] although those who prefer a higher alcohol content might opt for a 1:1 ratio or more.[15] An early Cordoban version of the drink called "90210"—a possible reference to the 1990s TV drama[12]calls for nine tenths of fernet, two ice cubes and one tenth of cola.[14][18] The International Bartenders Association recipe—first published in 2020—[9]calls for 50 millilitres Fernet-Branca poured into a double old fashioned glass with ice, filled up with cola.[33]

Fernet-Branca and Coca-Cola are by far the preferred brands and market leaders, although several other local bitters have emerged since the drink's popularization, which include "premium" and cheaper versions,[4][34] as well as "artisan-made" fernets,[35] and ready-to-drink versions of the cocktail.[15][36] Over the years, fernet products in Argentina have been "lightened" in relation to the traditional amaros of Italy, as they are now intended for consumption with cola—reducing their bitterness, alcohol content and "syrupy texture".[37]

La Voz explained a typical preparation of fernet con coca: "It carries two or three ice cubes and a variable measure of fernet and cola. It is recommended to serve it with an inclination of 45 degrees and in a long glass, so that the soda does not lose gas. The foam should expand to overflow the glass and then contract and stay within the circumference of the glass. On the contrary, if it drips between the sides, the soda was served too quickly and the drink will lose its character, its perfect condition."[4] Some people dump an extra measure of fernet just as the foam is about to leak out of the glass, so that it lowers and does not spill,[4] a practice known as "coronado" (meaning "crowned").[15] Walkers commonly make a "viajero" (meaning "traveller" in Spanish),[3][38] using half-cut plastic bottles of Coca-Cola as containers for communal drinking and to carry the cocktail.[18]


Despite being a relatively modern phenomenon, fernet con coca has managed to cement itself culturally,[17][41] and is now regarded as a national symbol and cultural icon of Argentina,[4][14][3] as well as the country's "unofficial national drink".[16][42][43]

It is mostly consumed in Argentina, but the cocktail can also be found in some of its neighboring countries, such as Uruguay and Bolivia.[9] Despite its popularity, many Argentines consider fernet con coca to be an acquired taste, and its flavor often repulses foreigners.[15][38] Some relate the success of the cocktail in the country to a general fondness for the bitter taste in Argentine culture, exemplified by the widespread consumption of mate and non-alcoholic bitters like Terma.[44][45]

Fernet's popularity extends beyond differences in age, sex or social class,[4][22] and currently is the third most popular alcoholic beverage in the country, behind wine and beer.[14][3]

The popularity of the cocktail has made Argentina the consumer of 75% of all fernet produced globally, as well as one of the world's highest Coca-Cola consumers, drinking about four times the global average.[38]

With its long history in the country, the Fernet-Branca brand has achieved a "cultlike" and "almost mythical" status among Argentines.[19][43] It is by far the most popular fernet brand sold in Argentina, having 79% of the market share, followed by Vittone with 11%, Capri with 7% and 1882 (known as "milocho") with 3%.[16][46] According to Branca, only 5% of fernet sold in Argentina is drunk on its own, and the rest is used for mixing, largely with cola.[4]

Fernet con coca has been used as a novelty flavoring in ice cream,[47][48] and alfajores, a local confection.[49] Some companies sell canned "fernet con coca foam" that can be used as a dessert topping or filling.[50]

Three-quarters of the amaro's sales are concentrated in "the Interior" provinces,[27] that is, the portion of the Argentine territory that is not part of the Buenos Aires metropolitan area.[51] Fernet consumption per capita increases between 15% and 18% in the Northwest, which includes the provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, Catamarca, La Rioja and Santiago del Estero, as the region has a greater historical tradition of herbal liqueur drinking.[27] However, the epicenter of fernet con coca drinking in the country is its home province of Córdoba, which represented almost 30% of national consumption—about three million liters of fernet a year—in 2013.[11] The drink is considered an "emblem" of the province,[9] and a fundamental part of its distinct cultural identity and heritage.[21][37] Córdoba prides itself on setting its own cultural trends, and fernet con coca has become one of its biggest icons along with rally racing and cuarteto.[21][22] The popularity of fernet among Cordobans has been linked to the local custom of consuming herbal medicines such as burro, boldo and peperina.[4] Writing for The New York Times in 2015, Jonathan Gilbert felt that the preference for fernet in Córdoba "demonstrates the extent to which [its inhabitants] revolt against the prevailing cultural and political trends in Buenos Aires, whose inhabitants are called porteños".[21]

In popular culture[edit]

Several artists, especially from Córdoba, have made reference to the cocktail in their works. In the 1990s, rock band Vilma Palma e Vampiros from Rosario released a song named after the cocktail, which featured the lyrics: "I do not want to end up in a cell without my fernet con coca".[52][53] Popular cuarteto artist La Mona Jiménez has also dedicated a song to the drink, in which he sings "I want to live life, after this one there is no other, that's why I drink fernet con coca".[15] Cordoban band Los Caligaris refer to the cocktail in their track "Asado y fernet".[15] Fito Páez names the drink in his song "Las cosas que me hacen bien", off his 2020 album La conquista del espacio.[54]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The cocktail is also known as "fernuco", "fernacho",[2] "fefi",[5] "chabona",[6] "morocho",[7] "ferloncho", "fercola", "70/30", "Bladis" and "Fernando Bladis"—in reference to a cuarteto singer.[8]
  2. ^ The oxymoronic phrase "pizza and champagne" (Spanish: "pizza con champagne") is a common icon and metaphor of the Argentine 1990s, as its combination of high and low culture represents the "frivolous" splurging spirit of the era, as well as the phenomenon of consumption and revaluation of working class practices and aesthetics by the upper classes during the era of Menem's liberal economic policies and convertibility plan.[24][25]


  1. ^ "fernet y ferné, palabras válidas". Fundéu Argentina (in Spanish). A joint project of the Fundación Instituto Internacional de la Lengua Española (FIILE) and the Fundación del Español Urgente (Fundéu BBVA). August 16, 2018. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Ya están las 4 finalistas del concurso mejor palabra del idioma cordobés". La Voz (in Spanish). March 21, 2019. Archived from the original on June 24, 2019. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Pardo, Daniel (June 30, 2017). ""Sabe a remedio": el día que intenté aprender a tomar fernet, una de las bebidas favoritas en Argentina" (in Spanish). BBC Mundo. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Heinz, José. "El gran misterio cordobés: ¿por qué nos gusta tanto el fernet?". La Voz (in Spanish). Córdoba, Argentina. Archived from the original on July 23, 2018. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  5. ^ "Fernet con Coca" (in Spanish). SerArgentino.com. December 9, 2018. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  6. ^ "Lanzan un fernet con cola en lata made in Córdoba". El Ancasti (in Spanish). January 29, 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  7. ^ Romero, Ivana (March 22, 2019). ""Más peligroso que cirujano con hipo": un atlas de las expresiones que inventaron los cordobeses". Clarín (in Spanish). Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  8. ^ "Cabeza es "bocha, cucusa, marote, mate o sabiola"". La Voz (in Spanish). February 25, 2019. Archived from the original on June 21, 2020. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d "El fernet con coca, reconocido como "trago de la nueva era" por la Asociación Internacional de Bartenders". Clarín (in Spanish). April 7, 2020. Archived from the original on April 20, 2020. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  10. ^ ""Fernandito": el clásico fernet con coca fue distinguido por bartenders internacionales". Ámbito Financiero (in Spanish). April 7, 2020. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Petovel, Pablo (January 6, 2013). "Todo lo que hay que saber sobre el fernet". Día a Día. Córdoba, Argentina. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d "Argentina, spopola il Fernet". Libero (in Italian). August 13, 2009. Archived from the original on January 12, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  13. ^ Zucchi, John (2019). "Migrant Marketplaces: Food and Italians in North and South America by Elizabeth Zanoni (review)". The Americas. Cambridge University Press. Project MUSE. 76 (3): 535–536. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Vecino, Diego (July 8, 2011). "Fernet: una historia de amor argentina". Brando (in Spanish). La Nación. Archived from the original on July 27, 2017. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Lutzky, Leandro (November 12, 2018). "Fernet: La amarga bebida amada por los argentinos y odiada por los extranjeros" (in Spanish). RT en Español. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Gilbert, Jonathan (March 18, 2016). "How One Company Turned Grandpa's Booze Into Argentina's National Drink". Fortune. Archived from the original on October 22, 2018. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d e McKirdy, Tim (September 19, 2018). "Argentina's Beloved, Two-Ingredient Cocktail Transcends Age, Class, and Economic Turmoil". New York City: VinePair. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  18. ^ a b c d e Shockey, Lauren (January 26, 2020). "The history of Argentina's most popular hangover cure". The Week. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Branca reconoce que la mezcla de fernet con Coca nació en Córdoba". La Voz (in Spanish). May 3, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  20. ^ a b c Ventura, Marco (April 25, 2012). A Buenos Aires c'è un conte filosofo che si è bevuto la crisi con un Fernet (PDF). Panorama (in Italian). pp. 106–11. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 29, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  21. ^ a b c d e Gilbert, Jonathan (June 30, 2015). "Argentine City Aims to Stand Out With Rebellious Spirit (and Coke) in a Cup". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 3, 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  22. ^ a b c d "Fernet: el aperitivo que prendió en «en la villa y en torneos de polo»". El Empresario. El País (in Spanish). Uruguay. December 9, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  23. ^ a b c Bruce-Gardyne, Tom (February 14, 2017). "Fernet-Branca: a brand history". The Spirits Business. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  24. ^ Peker, Luciana (March 2, 2007). "El champagne por la ventana". Las 12. Página/12 (in Spanish). Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  25. ^ Fair, Hernán (May 1, 2011). "La función de los medios masivos de comunicación en la legitimación de las reformas de mercado.Consideraciones a partir del caso argentino durante el primer gobierno de Carlos Menem (1989–1995)" (PDF). Revista SAAP (in Spanish). Sociedad Argentina de Análisis Político. 5 (1): 93-130. ISSN 1666-7883. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  26. ^ Abella, Francisco (February 24, 2018). "Tragos criollos". La Diaria (in Spanish). Montevideo, Uruguay. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  27. ^ a b c d Villavicencio, Katherine (October 28, 2012). "El Fernet gana el nicho joven y se expande en consumo y producción". La Nación (in Spanish). Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  28. ^ Ablin, Amalie (March 2011). "El mercado del fernet" (PDF) (in Spanish). Área de Industria Alimentaria – Secretaria de Agricultura, Ganadería y Pesca. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  29. ^ a b "EPI. Estadísticas de Productos Industriales" (PDF) (in Spanish). INDEC. March 2020: 23. ISSN 2545-7152. Retrieved June 19, 2020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  30. ^ Carrillo, Cristian (June 29, 2019). "No se salva ni el fernet". Página/12 (in Spanish). Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  31. ^ "Cócteles y cristalería: mirá las mejores recetas". MendoVoz (in Spanish). Mendoza, Argentina. June 9, 2020. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  32. ^ "Branca & cola" (in Spanish). Argentina: Fratelli Branca Destilerías. Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  33. ^ "Fernandito". International Bartenders Association. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  34. ^ Marchetti, Nicolás (October 15, 2015). "Eligieron el mejor fernet de Argentina y no es el que estás pensando". Vos. La Voz (in Spanish). Archived from the original on April 17, 2018. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  35. ^ Proietti, Luciana (February 15, 2016). "Por la ruta del fernet: los productores artesanales avanzan en todo el país". La Nación (in Spanish). Retrieved June 18, 2020.
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  37. ^ a b Mario Markic, Roberto Colmenarejo (October 13, 2017). ADN cordobés. En el camino (TV show) (in Spanish). TN on YouTube. 25:18 minutes in. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  38. ^ a b c Lahrichi, Kamilia (March 14, 2017). "Argentina loves its Fernet, a bitter Italian liquor". CNN. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  39. ^ "Estadísticas: Amargos, bitters y fernets" (in Spanish). Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Pesca – República Argentina. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  40. ^ "EPI. Estadísticas de Productos Industriales" (PDF) (in Spanish). INDEC. June 2016: 19. ISSN 2545-7152. Retrieved June 18, 2020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  41. ^ do Rosario, Jorgelina (January 14, 2014). "Cuál es la bebida alcohólica que más creció en consumo en la última década" (in Spanish). Infobae. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  42. ^ Rodríguez, Juliana (September 2, 2013). "En la Córdoba argentina se bebe fernet". El Viajero. El País (in Spanish). Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  43. ^ a b Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas. Ten Speed Press. October 11, 2016. p. 54. ISBN 978-160-774-748-2. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  44. ^ Ríos, Sebastián A. (April 13, 2019). "El sabor amargo, ¿la nueva pasión de los argentinos?". La Nación (in Spanish). Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  45. ^ Sainz, Alfredo (November 16, 2016). "Fernet: cómo el aperitivo menos pensado se convirtió en la bebida que más crece". La Nación (in Spanish). Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  46. ^ Valleboni, Cecilia (June 23, 2017). "Quién se ha tomado todo el fernet". Forbes Argentina (in Spanish). Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  47. ^ "Un heladero creó el helado de fernet en Córdoba". El Liberal (in Spanish). Santiago del Estero, Argentina. October 16, 2015.
  48. ^ "Helados de crema vs. de agua: de qué lado estás" (in Spanish). Infobae. December 8, 2018. Retrieved June 18, 2020. ... innovaciones tales como el helado de fernet o de palta.
  49. ^ "En Córdoba crearon un alfajor con sabor a fernet". La Nación (in Spanish). March 15, 2018. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  50. ^ "Espuma de fernet: cómo es el nuevo producto y 5 ideas para usarlo". La Nación (in Spanish). May 2, 2019. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  51. ^ Pardo, Daniel (July 26, 2018). "Argentina: En qué se diferencian los porteños de Buenos Aires del resto de los argentinos (y cómo influye eso en los famosos estereotipos del país)" (in Spanish). BBC Mundo. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  52. ^ "Cocktail Culture Is Officially Sweet on Bitter Fernet-Branca". Bloomberg News. August 30, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  53. ^ Martínez-Carter, Karina (December 30, 2011). "Fernet: The Best Liquor You're (Still) Not Yet Drinking". The Atlantic. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  54. ^ Catalán, Matías (March 13, 2020). "Fito Páez repasa canción por canción su nuevo disco «La Conquista del Espacio»" (in Spanish). Santiago, Chile: Rock & Pop. Retrieved June 21, 2020.

External links[edit]