Fernet: history and health benefits


Known as a drink consumed to combat food comas and digestive problems, fernet is often offered these days after heavy meals to prevent fatigue, soothe indigestion and cure hangovers.

There is not much on this earth like the Fernet, and for this reason it has gained a legendary reputation across the world.

To say that fernet is an acquired taste is an understatement. Italian bartenders and restaurateurs will tell you their customers can’t get enough of this mint herb amaro, or absolutely hate it.

The creation of this aperitif dates back to Milan in 1845, where Bernardino Branca founded his Fratelli Branca distillery and created his own fernet, Fernet-Branca. The drink was originally conceived as a cure for cholera, because Italians believed that the herbs in the drink would stimulate hunger in sick people. Even local hospitals administered fernet to their patients, in the hope that they would feel like eating and drinking.

Fernet-Branca’s specific ingredient list remains a family secret, but current Fratelli Branca CEO Edoardo Branca shares that his current recipe contains ingredients with global influences such as South African aloe, rhubarb. from China and chamomile from Italy. Today, this liquid panacea is still served in its country of origin (and in many Italian restaurants in the United States) alongside coffee and ice cream on dessert menus as a digestif.

The drink became so popular in the 90s that rock band Vilma Palma e Vampiros released a theme song: Fernet with Coke. Despite its Milanese origins, Argentina is currently the biggest consumer of fernet. Black bitter is so popular in fact that Argentina is home to the only other Fratelli Branca distillery outside of Milan!

In the United States, San Francisco made an exception for fernet to be consumed because of its supposed medicinal properties during Prohibition. When the drink was first sold, the Fernet was advertised to do the following:

  • helps digestion
  • decrease fevers
  • ease the pain

The first versions contained text that read: “[Fernet] benefits the stomach, promotes digestion, strengthens the body, overcomes cholera, reduces fever and cures people with weak nerves, poor appetite, illness or tapeworm.

While the effectiveness of these benefits is up for debate, a more health-conscious public will appreciate its low sugar content and abundance of herbs that are typically only found in juice bars and wellness studios.

With a ginger ale hunter in hand, fernet fans flock to the West Coast in droves to experience the best of their mixologists. Often referred to as “the bartender’s handshake,” a fernet shoot application signals insider status among those in the food and beverage industry. Fernet remains very popular in San Francisco, covering 25 percent fernet consumed in the United States from 2008.

Today, the purported healing power of fernet still holds true for many devoted drinkers.

If this is your first time trying the fiery bitter, try a Sour Industry Where Hanky ​​panky: these cocktails incorporate crisp acidity or added sweetness to relax. And if you’re brave enough, do it. Your bartender will have a new respect for you, and you will (probably) feel better in the morning than usual. Greet!


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