Fernet-Branca is known for many things. It’s known for its uncompromising bitterness. It’s known as a building block for classic cocktails. It’s also known as a hangover cure. And the bottle and its the label are almost as iconic as the drink itself.
For those who are not familiar with the herbal liquor, Fernet-Branca is a fernet, which is a type of amaro or bitter spirit. Fernet is made from a base of grape distilled spirits which are infused with a number of roots, herbs, and spices, varying from brand to brand. Most fernet contain around 40% alcohol.
Fernet-Branca, was invented by Bernardino Branca in Milan in 1845 as a digestive cure. The recipe, which includes twenty-seven botanicals, is a secret passed down from generation to generation and is still made the same way today.
Although Fernet-Branca can be drunk on its own, it’s most widely used in cocktails to add a herbaceous and bitter character. British chef, Fergus Henderson claims two parts of Fernet-Branca with one part crème de menthe over ice is the perfect cure for overindulgence.
After one hundred and sixty-three years of distilling bitter liquor, the brand has developed a surprisingly different product. Chicago’s botanic beer brewery, Forbidden Root, which uses botanicals to brew craft beer met with Edoardo Branca, sixth generation heir to the company and agreed to create a Fernet-Branca inspired beer.
The beer is called Fernetic and contains rhubarb root, peppermint, saffron, wormwood, angelica, star anise and fourteen more different botanicals.
The brewery together with the Branca family decided to brew an Imperial Black Ale. It’s a style which is already inherently bitter in flavor, to which they added a strong aromatic character. Forbidden Root explains on their website that the marriage of both brands occurred naturally as both their products rely heavily on botanicals.
Unfortunately, you will have to travel to Chicago to try the beer. A taste of the regular Fernet-Branca is fortunately not too hard to come by as many of Bangkok’s cocktail bars will be able to provide you with it. One of them is About Eatery, Bangkok’s first natural wine bar in Asoke.