Tippling Trends: Low ABV Liqueurs Are on the Rise, Led By Milan’s Fernet-Branca

 

 

 

This time of year is notorious for unkept resolutions and vague attempts at “dry January.” While we support you, whoever you are, we think it’s also the perfect time to dive into low ABV (alcohol by volume) liqueurs. And perhaps the perfect post-holidays digestif might be Fernet-Branca, created as a health tonic in 1845, and still maintaining an almost zero sugar content. Although made in Milan, it has become the national drink of Argentina and a favorite in San Francisco.

Its digestive properties are well documented. Take Suburbia Today circa 1962, which recommends a splash of Fernet-Branca as a cure-all for “overeating, flatulence, hangovers, gas pains, [and] lifting yourself off the floor when you’ve mixed oysters and bananas.”

The acclaimed liqueur turns 175 this year, and while few would combine bananas and oysters these days, that hasn’t affected the company motto: “Novare serbando: renew and conserve.” And Edoardo Branca, the sixth and current family member in charge of the brand, has just reestablished offices in Manhattan. The first order of business? Making a custom in-house bar for the Branca team and visitors.

 

 

While the love of Fernet is renewed daily, it’s distilled in Milano, comprised of the original and proprietary blend of herbs, including bitter orange peel, star anise, cardamom, laurel and saffron (In fact, the Branca distillery purchases 75% of the world’s saffron—and at $5000 a pound, no less). Its sharp yet distinctive bite and signature hue are utterly distinctive.

With the New York move, Edoardo hopes to also showcase other labels in their portfolio, like Brancamenta, a mint version of Fernet, house distilled Stravecchio Branca, or “the oldest” Branca brandy, and Carpano Vermouths like Antica Formula and Punt e Mes. With America’s growing love for amaro and low ABV liqueurs in general, this makes perfect sense. According to last fall’s Nielsen reports, Carpano Vermouths are growing four times the overall category rate, and are being used in everything from Manhattans to Negronis. Top trends show that a splash in your next spritz or even a little on the rocks is on the way. And while Fernet has earned its name, Carpano Vermouths will always be the chicest member of the family.

Here, Edoardo Branca shares his personal recipe for what he calls a Reverse Negroni—for those times when you want to a cocktail without the aftermath—and a few other Fernet-forward classic tipples.

 

 

Fernet-Branca Cocktails 

 

Reverse Negroni

1 oz. Bitter
1 oz. London Dry gin
¼ oz. Fernet-Branca
Glass: coupe
Directions: In a mixing glass, add all ingredients and stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel.

 

Hanky Panky

1.5 oz Dry Gin
.75 oz Antica Formula
2 dashes Fernet-Branca
Directions: In a mixing glass, add all ingredients and stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel.

 

Fancuilli Cocktail

1.5 oz Rye Whiskey
.75 Punt e Mes
.25 oz Fernet-Branca
Over a Large Ice Cube With Orange Peel
Directions: In a mixing glass, add all ingredients and stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel.

 

Toronto

2 oz Rye Whiskey
.5 oz Fernet-Branca
.25 oz Simple syrup
1 dash Angostura
Lemon twist
Directions: In a mixing glass, add all ingredients and stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel.

 

 

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