Fernet Branca is member of the Amaro category of Italian liqueurs and bitters. In The Craft of the Cocktail, by Dale DeGroff, he recommends first trying Amaro Averna, which is both sweet and a bit bitter, and Branca Menta, which is Fernet Branca blended with creme de menthe. After enjoying those, he explains, you may be able to make the leap to Fernet Branca, which is rather bitter, and as he puts delicately, an acquired taste.
Fernet-Branca tastes like it comes from the apothecary. Vick’s VapoRub would be the nearest comparison of aroma too. There, I said it. Fernet-Branca is very intensely menthol. But, this is a good thing. Now don’t jump right in and pour yourself a mug of the stuff to sip through the evening. Although a small bit may be good on its own, it really shines when utilized as a cocktail component. Like maraschino liqueur and Benedictine, you only need a small amount to bring out its flavor. I think it works perfectly in the following cocktail, and it gives you an excuse to use another ingredient that may be collecting dust in your cabinet: Dubonnet.
Don’t Give Up The ship
- 1 1/2oz gin
- 1/2oz red Dubonnet
- 1/4oz orange curacao
- 1/4oz Fernet Branca
Stir with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. This cocktail greatly benefits from being icy cold, so I would suggest using the method detailed in Cocktail Chill – A Scientific Experiment.
Source: The Internet Cocktail Database
A hint of menthol enters your nose as you take your first sip, but there is something else there too. A strange combination indeed. The taste is like a cool breeze, and it leaves a tingle on your tongue for a finish. The dubonnet and curacao really balance out the intensity of the Fernet-Branca, and the gin forms a good base for the spirits to comingle.
Fernet Branca is made from 27 different herbs including aloes, rhubarb, red cinchona bark, and gentian root. It also contains interesting spices such as galanga and zedoary. Another ingredient, gum myrrh, is an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and contains antibacterial properties. Right from the apothecary. It is then aged in oak barrels for over a year before bottling.