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Wednesday
Oct192011

CLASSIC digestif is a NEW trend: FERNET-BRACA

If you've spent time in Italy, Argentina, or San Francisco - and if you're adventurous - you might be familiar with Fernet-Braca.

Fernet is a classic Italian digestif long touted as a cure-all. It's said to aid digestion, cure hangovers, and (perhaps most accurately) wrap the sipper in pleasant buzz without the after effects of an aching head the next morning. Indeed, during Prohibition it was imported as a medicine, and was one of the few liquors legally sold in the States.

Fernet is a bitter, and like its cousin Campari, is somewhat of an acquired taste. If you're used to drinking a lot of concoctions with sugar, Fernet's crisp and clean bite might be a tad bracing the first time you try it. Let's just say it's not for everyone.

The taste has been described as medicinal and syrupy. While the exact recipe is a tightly-guarded secret, it's known to contain aloe, cardamom, chamomile, myrrh, and saffron and rumored to include bay, citrus peel, coca leaf, echinacea, ginseng, peppermint oil, quinine, sage, and wormwood (yes, the key ingredient in absinthe).

Aficionados say that after a few minutes (and perhaps a chaser of quality ginger ale, as they do in San Francisco) you'll want to give Fernet a second chance. Alternatively, you could do as the Argentines do, and mix it with equal parts cola. The Italians tend to enjoy it with sparkling water before a meal, or afterwards, mixed into espresso.

San Francisco accounts for nearly all of the Fernet consumed in the States. At this point, it's very much an underground trend in the rest of the country, save for big liquor stores and mixology-focused establishments in larger cities. Perhaps you'll be the one to start the movement in your neck of the woods?

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