What is Fernet?
Fernet is a type of spirit called an amaro—Italian for “bitter.” It has a thick consistency and bitter taste.
Brands of Fernet
1882, Cinzano, Martini & Rossi, Ramazotti and Luxardo
Argentina's Brand of Choice - Fernet Branca
The most popular brand, Fernet Branca, is actually from Italy and includes more than 40 herbs and spices. The recipe was established in 1845, by Bernardino Branca, and remains a well guarded secret.
However, these are some of the spices rumored to be in Fernet: myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, codeine, mushrooms, fermented beets, coca leaf, gentian, rhubarb, wormwood, zedoary, cinchona, bay leaves, absinthe, orange peel, calumba, echinacea, quinine, ginseng, St. John's wort, sage, and peppermint oil. Saffron is said to be the most important ingredient, and Fratelli Branca, the manufacturer, is the world’s largest consumer of saffron (75 percent of worldwide output).
What does Fernet Branca taste like?
The taste of Fernet is described like this in this article:
"The easiest way to explain the taste is to imagine Jägermeister without the sugar. You shoot it, immediately getting a strong hit of mouthwash - drying the mouth out, stinging the tongue."
Fernet with Coke
This intense flavor of Fernet is typically served on the rocks along with Coca Cola. Recipes differ on the parts of Fernet and Coca Cola, from 1 part Fernet to 9 parts Coke, to half and half!
History of Fernet in Argentina
One of the reasons behind Fernet's popularity: it was drank in protest. In the 1980′s university students drank Fernet instead of British whiskey during the Malvinas/Falkland Islands War with England.
An Argentine's take on Fernet Etiquette
"The School of Fernet" is a funny and insightful episode by the guys at Buenos Aires Cast (BA Cast).