Fernet-Branca: Discover an adventurous Italian liqueur in three sips

Fernet Collins, photo provided by Fernet Branca
Fernet Collins, photo provided by Fernet Branca /

An Italian classic, Fernet-Branca is a liqueur that reveals itself in layers.

While Italians have longed appreciated Fernet-Branca, some people have shied away from its distinctive flavor. Although the 27 herbs, roots and spices create this special secretive fernet formula, the iconic Italian liqueur can reveal itself. In just three sips, an adventurous flavor journey is revealed.

For some people, they have long stared a dark green bottle wedged on a far back shelf of a bar. With a name that some people mispronounce, the Italian liqueur can be passed over for something trendier or newer. If more drinkers only knew what discoveries could be found in that iconic bottle.

For 175 years, Fernet-Branca is a brand of fernet, which is considered an aromatic spirit. Fernet is a grape based spirit, and the flavors come from a variety of herbs and spices. Many people have enjoyed this beverage as a digestif (or after dinner drink). Some people believe that the beverage is the perfect end to a meal.

For those who have not yet learned to appreciate the aromatic liqueur, a small glass, served neat can be a bold experience. Although the aroma and initial sip has an element of intensity, the beverage evolves and reveals more than that first blush. In some ways, it is a nuanced sip that deserves time to linger and ponder.

To fully appreciate Fernet-Branca, there is a method of introducing that flavor to the uninitiated. The idea of three sips to discover allows time for the liqueur to reveal itself. While this beverage might be complicated, it is worth the effort.

On the first sip, the flavor is bold, unexpected, almost shocking. The strong herbal notes hit with a force. While you want to reach for a palate cleanser, there is something lingering that leaves the back of your throat wanting more. It is like that pleasurable aroma that lingers in the air. You might not be sure at first, but then you want to go back and experience it again.

For the second sip, the flavor is not as powerful. There is more nuance, yet the bitterness comes through. As the spices start to take over from the mint, the balance of the beverage begins to unfold. Questions start to arise. Is the spice ginger or more warm cinnamon? The intrigue continues to grow as the flavor leaves questions to a mystery that needs to be solved.

Finally, on the third sip, the complications fade, and the flavor’s enjoyment takes over. The abruptness of the first sip is long forgotten. Now, each additional moment is meant to be savored.

Yes, Fernet-Branca is complicated, sometimes confusing and very intriguing. If you are willing to pull pack all the layers, a wonderful gift can be revealed.

As more and more people come to appreciate the Italian liqueur, it becomes a lovely option for cocktails. While many South American countries have often served Fernet-Branca and cola as a drink, some people are embracing the Fernet Collins.


A Fernet Collins is simply Fernet-Branca, lemon juice and club soda. While there are many versions of a Collins cocktail, this version can be a great apertif or just a refreshing cocktail any time of day.

Additionally, Fernet-Branca can be used in a variety of classic cocktails. As a substitute for bitters, many mixologists are using it in a Manhattan, Old Fashioned or a variety of other drinks.

Next time you see a bottle of Fernet-Branca on a shelf, open yourself up to the possibilities that the classic Italian liqueur holds. If you want more than a simple pleasure, let three sips lead you down a path to a confidently complex flavor that will leave you even more intrigued after that taste fades.

Related Story. Fall in love with delicious apple cocktails. light

What unexpected liquor has captivated your drinking pleasures?