Behind the Brand

So, You Think You Know Fernet-Branca?

Feb. 24, 2020

Fernet-Branca, one of Italy’s most famous herbal spirits, is a mainstay among top bartenders, and it’s growing in popularity with home mixologists, too.

How much do you really know about this enigmatic elixir?

Here are nine Fernet-Branca facts to pique your own customers’ interest in the brand.


Only one person knows the exact recipe for achieving Fernet-Branca’s unique flavor profile: Niccolò Branca, Fernet-Branca’s current president and the great-grandson of the company’s founder, Bernardino Branca.

Fernet-Branca is 175 years old, but it doesn’t look a day over 150. Maybe there’s something to the brand’s health benefits after all?


Speaking of health benefits, doctors once believed Fernet-Branca could cure cholera. While never verified scientifically, the drink was administered to 19th century cholera patients in Milan, and doctors saw unexpected improvement among the patients.

Fernet-Branca is generously sipped after big dinners in its native Italy to help with indigestion. In Argentina, it’s hugely popular with mixed with cola. In Germany, Fernet-Branca is usually served with Red Bull. In the U.S., it is most often served as a shot with a ginger ale chaser.


Fernet-Branca’s recipe includes core 27 ingredients, such as rhubarb from China, gentian from France, galanga from India or Sri Lanka, chamomile from Europe or Argentina.


Ordering a shot of Fernet-Branca is known as the “Bartender’s Handshake.” It’s a way for bartenders to show solidarity with each other when visiting new cities and/or bars.

Fernet-Branca uses 75 percent of the world’s saffron harvest each year.


During U.S. Prohibition, Fernet-Branca was sold as a medicinal product and became hugely popular among consumers.


Fernet-Branca is aged in oak barrels for more than a year before going to market.