How to drink Fernet (and like it).

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Maybe you heard about it in The Dark Knight Rises: saw Alfred sipping the concoction and though it was sophisticated and chic, went out and got a bottle…or maybe you went on holidays to Italy and bought some… then you got home full of expectation, pour some on a glass and discovered that it was a thick, black liquid that looked and smelled more like the tonics they sold on the Wild West, than like something you’ll voluntarily drink on a Friday night out. Ah… Fernet! Such a strange drink, and yet, I love it!

If this is the first time you heard about Fernet, shame on you!

Fernet is a  type of bitter (and indeed it is very, very bitter) made from a number of herbs and spices which vary according to the brand (Fernet Branca being my favourite), but usually include myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and especially saffron, with a base of grape distilled spirits, and coloured with caramel colouring. It typically contains 45% alcohol by volume, so it is not something you drink by the glass, like a beer.

There is also a Fernet Mint, which is green, and tastes very minty (though my boyfriend says I’m delirious and “it tastes like medicine too”).

It is considered a digestif, and therefore drank in small amounts in a tiny glass. But I don’t know many people, aside from my grandfather, who actually enjoy Fernet that way (probably they all live in Italy): the taste is very strong, the consistency is a bit syrupy, your eyes tend to fill up with tears as the liquid goes down your throat and well…not the most pleasant of experiences.

However, there are two simple ways to enjoy this drink as a cocktail and they are delicious.

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For your Traditional Fernet cocktail you’ll need:

Ice cubes

Half a lemon

150ml Coke (approx.)

1 measure of Fernet.

A tall glass.

How to:

1.- Super easy! Fill a tall glass (or a jar, as in this case) with tons of ice.

2.- Pour in the Fernet, it should be not much more than this:

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Unlike other drinks which are a bit more forgiving, it is important to get the balance of Fernet  to Coke right, if you do, this will be the most amazing, weird, unforgettable drink you’ll ever had. But you need to get the balance right, there is a precise point at which the sweetness of the Coke and the bitterness of the Fernet come together to make a drink that is neither sweet not bitter. It is just refreshing and dark, with a subtly sweet, herbal core. You drink Fernet prepared like this and you feel …Powerful… As I said, it is a weird drink 😉

It should be Batman’s drink of choice.

However, if you get the balance wrong, you’ll end up with a bitter, undrinkable mess or a sweet syrupy goo. You’ll know when you get it right, because you’ll love it!

3.- Top with the Coke (be careful for it forms a lot of foam really fast) and squeeze some lemon on top.

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Decorate with a lemon wedge and enjoy!

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For your Mint Fernet cocktail you’ll need:

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Ice cubes

1 lime wedge

1 measure of Fernet Mint

150 ml Sprite (approx.)

1 tall glass

How to:

1.- Again, super easy! Fill a tall glass (or a jar) with tons of ice.

2.- Pour in the Fernet, it should be not much more than this:

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Again, it is important to get the balance of Fernet to Sprite right for, if you do, this will be the most refreshing, minty, delicious drink you’ll ever had and you’ll never drink anything else during the summer. If you get it right, it’s Heavenly!

Better go short with the Fernet and add more if it tastes too bland.

3.- Top with the Sprite (again, beware of the foam) and squeeze the lime on top.

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Ta dah! Ready to enjoy.

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What about that colour? BRIGHT GREEN! And with the lime and mint flavours, this is great for hot Summer days.

Hope you give these cocktails a try! You won’t regret it!

Have a great day!

Paula

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