Fernet Branca. A secret family recipe with 27 herbs from mid-1800s Milan. Most popular in Argentina and San Francisco, this spirit/liqueur/bitter/amaro/etc. is one of the most unique liquids in existence. Undoubtedly an acquired taste, Fernet inspires quite a reaction to the inexperienced. First Fernet documents the expressions of individuals trying it for the first time. While certainly not for everyone, Fernet fans love the incredibly bitter and complex power it brings to crush your palate. Carly Wray writes:
A magical series of things happens when you do a shot of it. First, you recoil from the lacquer of black licorice and fresh paint, it’s alarming and tongue-coating. Once it’s gone, your brain sorts out what’s happened, and any given drinker will describe different phantoms — chocolate, caramel, mushrooms, earth, mint, orange oil, mouth wash. Finally, you join one of two groups of human beings: those who will never try fernet again, and those who will never again live without it.
YOUR FIRST SIP of Fernet Branca, an Italian liqueur, will be akin to waking up in a foreign country and finding a crowd of people arguing in agitated, thorny voices outside your hotel window. It’s an event that’s at once alarming and slightly thrilling, and leaves you wanting to know more. Other than that, it’s hard to describe what Fernet Branca tastes like; it mostly tastes like Fernet Branca. But to give you an idea: in 1960, Betsy von Furstenberg was suspended from Actors’ Equity for spiking Tony Randall’s onstage drink with it. Randall believed he had been poisoned with iodine.
Fernet also makes for an exquisite digestif- try for yourself. A shot of chilled Fernet after a big meal will snap you out of your food coma and provide an instant second wind. Curtis continues:
Fernet Branca remains a popular cure for hangovers, and is often served as a digestif—something to sip after an overly generous dinner. One theory is that bitterness, typically associated with poison, cues the body to accelerate the production of saliva and digestive juices. This is considered a matter of known fact among many American herbalists and Europeans generally, but is greeted with skepticism by others. Nicholas Talley, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, told me there’s little data to support this. “It’s folklore, frankly,” he said. “You put anything in your mouth, and it increases the production of saliva and gastric acid.”
Well, maybe. But before discovering Fernet Branca, my usual solution for overeating was to lie on my back on the floor for 35 minutes. Fernet does the trick without my having to go horizontal, and in half the time.
A while ago, we bought a slushee machine specifically to make Fernet Slushees- our answer to the sugary and artificial-tasting cheesy frozen margarita.