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What’s Fernet Branca? This bitter Italian amaro is popular as a shot and in drinks. Here’s more about it and how to use it in cocktails!

Fernet branca
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Here’s a liqueur that’s so intensely bitter, it’s a wonder that it’s got a worldwide cult following. Meet Fernet Branca! This Italian amaro tastes like bitter black licorice, intensely herbal and spicy. But it’s got a long history and has become incredibly popular in recent years. What exactly is it, and is it worth buying? Here’s what you need to know about Fernet.

What is Fernet Branca?

Fernet is an Italian bitter or amaro, a liqueur made with a mix of herbs and spices. It is known for its intensely bitter flavor and its cult-like following, especially in Argentina. Fernet has a higher alcohol content than most bitters: it’s 40 to 45% alcohol. You can use a splash in cocktails or coffee, stir it into a cola (as the Argentinians do), or even drink it straight (as San Francisco bartenders do).

Fernet-Branca is a brand of Fernet invented in Milan, Italy in 1845. The Fratelli Branca company started exporting to Argentina in 1907 where it became massively popular. The liqueur caught on in the US around Prohibition because it was sold in pharmacies as a medicine! Fernet is made with 27 herbs and spices from a secret recipe, but it may include rhubarb, chocolate, aloe and quinine.

What does Fernet Branca taste like?

Fernet has an aggressive flavor, almost like bitter black licorice. It’s herbaceous and intensely bitter, with a subtly sweet finish.

How much alcohol is in Fernet Branca? It is 40 to 45% ABV (alcohol by volume), which is about double the typical alcohol content of a liqueur. It’s essentially the same ABV as spirits like whiskey, rum, vodka and gin.

Why we like it

Fernet Branca is a bit of an acquired taste, but it adds an immense amount of intriguing, herbaceous flavor to cocktails. Fernet is great when used like Angostura bitters. We like it best in the Fernet Sour, but it’s best known for its use in the Toronto.

How much does it cost?

Compared to other liquors, Fernet-Branca is mid-priced. Quality and pricing varies, from about $18 to 20 for a 375 ml bottle and $30 for a 750 ml bottle.

What are the best brands? Avoid the brand DeKuyper. Consider Lazzaroni amaretto, which is a nice mid-priced option. Amore brand is classic and works as a lower-priced option.

You can drink Fernet Branca straight up, mix it in cola (also known as Fernet con coca in Spanish) or mix it into cocktails. Here are the most popular cocktails with this liqueur!

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Fernet sour

Fernet Sour

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
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This Fernet cocktail is sweet, tart, bitter and herbal all at once! It stars Fernet Branca, green Chartreuse liqueur, and lime juice.


  • 1 ounce* Fernet-Branca
  • 1 ounce Green Chartreuse
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup


  1. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and add a handful of ice. Shake until cold.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass. If desired, garnish with a lime wheel.


*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

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About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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