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Dec 1, 2012 05:33 PM

Where to go from Fernet

I've become a big fan of Fernet Branca. I would swear by its utility as a digestif, but I also quite enjoy drinking it simply for it's taste and kick. Less often, I use it as a cocktail ingredient (here is the cocktail that set me off initially: So my question is, where should I go next in the world of Italian amaros?

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  1. A few of the more bitter amaro-like beverages of which I'm aware include:

    Amaro Nardini
    S. Maria Al Monte
    Riga Black Balzam

    (I'm not positive that the last one is available in the US. But get it if you can--it makes Fernet look downright tame.)

    1. It would help to know more about what you like about Fernet Branca. It is a heavy menthol, moderately-bitter, high alcohol, fairly dry amaro. If you like the menthol, try Menta Branca. If you want something more bitter, try Sibilia or dell'Erborista, which are also quite dry. Sibilia is a higher in alcohol. If you like the alcohol punch, then I agree with DSP's suggestion of Riga Black Balsams (Balzams) (which, ideally, should be aged a year or more in the bottle, according my Latvian source).

      For a versatile cocktail ingredient, try Cynar if you haven't already. It's also excellent as an aperitivo.

      -- | Craft cocktail database for pro's and enthusiasts

      3 Replies
      1. re: EvergreenDan

        Are either of those available in the Boston area? I've not seen them; and always interested in dry and bitter alternatives.

        1. re: davis_sq_pro

          Yes, and right in your eponymous neighborhood -- Liquor World in Porter Sq, Cambridge. Note that they are oddly-placed in the store -- tippy-top shelf behind the register on the right, not out on the shelves with the other amari.

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          1. re: EvergreenDan

            Ah, great one! Thanks, Dan!

            Unfortunately I now live in Melrose, but I head over to Cambridgeville on a somewhat regular basis. Will definitely buy a bottle of each next time I'm in the 'hood.

      2. Chartreuse. I know it's not Italian.

        1. You might try Leopold Brothers' version of Fernet as well. Different - more herby, less minty - but you may like it even better than Branca (I know I do).

          1. One word:


            Not Italian, but a damn fine digestif.