Best Bitter – Fernet Branca

Posted by: on Mar 11, 2011 | One Comment

No, that’s not part of a pint, but rather a glass of Fernet Branca.  I was over in Spitalfields the other day to visit Timothy Everest, who I will be writing a piece about soon, and just had to drop in to St. John Bread and Wine If you’re not already familiar with Fergus Henderson’s temples to good eating, please click that link and explore.

It was mid-afternoon when I popped by, so I didn’t need a whole meal.  Instead, I opted for some olives, foie gras and duck liver toasts, and the above glass of Fernet.  Fernet is a favorite of Henderson’s, and having never tried it before I thought it was worth a go.  A type of Italian amaro liqueur, Fernet has been around about a century and a half, and the brand Fernet Branca has supposedly been using the same recipe since day one.

No questions about it, Fernet is an acquired taste, but I do recommend checking it out.  For those of you familiar with other bitter and herbal liqueurs, this is nothing like them.  There is something distinctly medicinal and mentholated about Fernet that I haven’t encountered anywhere else.  In fact, it has been marketed on-and-off as a tonic, and supposedly is great for hangovers and menstrual pains.  Go figure.  Earthy, tart, minty, all describe the taste, but all insufficiently.  When I get home, I know the next bottle going on my shelf.

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