Fernet-Branca has a serious following among bartenders and those in the industry. For some the taste of the bitter liqueur (or amaro) might completely turn them off from the spirit and any drink made with it. For those that want to like it, but can’t overcome the herbaceous (it contains 27 herbs after all) nature of the digestif, your best bet is enjoying it in cocktail form.
San Antonio has a handful of bars that aren’t hesitant to add Fernet to their standard cocktail menus. For instance Cloak and Dagger off of 1604 makes a Flip using Fernet, Kings Ginger Liqueur, lemon juice, an egg white, and simple syrup. The foam from the egg white along with the sweetness from the ginger and the syrup help in cutting the bitter nature of the spirit. The drink only puts you back $7.50 and is a great introductory tipple.
For those with a bigger budget; Bar 1919 in the Blue Star Arts Complex used to have the Toronto Cocktail on their list of classics, and while it isn’t in print, it is still available off-menu. The Toronto is a combination of rye whiskey, Fernet, a bit of simple syrup, and orange zest. A strong and boozy cocktail that is perfect for fans of Old Fashioneds and Manhattans, the syrup helps balance out the flavor profile of the drink.
If you’re wanting to try out Fernet while munching on brunch, Chisme on the St. Mary’s Strip, has you covered with the Coffee Buzz made with cold brew coffee, Caffe Lolita, rye, Fernet, cream and piloncillo syrup. The cream and the piloncillo assist in disguising the strong flavor of the fernet. This would be an easy cocktail to make at home, too. Start by making your favorite coffee, add cream and a bit of sugar, then add rye and fernet to taste.
For those who want to explore Fernet at home there are great cocktails that you can make with little to not fuss. Similar to a spiked coffee, you can make a tasty mint hot chocolate, perfect for sipping during those upcoming cold months. Make your favorite hot chocolate, and add an ounce of Fernet or Fernet Mentha (for a mint twist) for a boozy winter drink. In the meantime (as we wait for cool fall months), you can enjoy the spirit in a Fernet and Coke. Similar to the popular rum and coke drink, put a shot of Branca in a glass, top with Coke and then garnish with lime. You’re palate will thank you.