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Where it’s from: Milan, Lombardy, Italy
What’s in it: 27 herbs and botanicals, including aloe ferox, bitter orange, cardamom, chamomile, galangal, laraha, laurel, myrrh, saffron, zedoaria
ABV: 39 percent
Joe Keeper describes Fernet-Branca as the Kleenex of amari. “Customers are often surprised that other fernet exist,” he says. “They think fernet is a brand, not a style.” Created in Milan in 1845 using a blend of 27 herbs and botanicals, Fernet-Branca is undoubtedly the most famous fernet, the category of amaro whose key characteristics include an elevated level of alcohol, lower level of sweetener and a dark hue, along with key common ingredients. I couldn’t not include the iconic brand on this list, but the truth is that I don’t really seek it out to drink neat on its own. I drink it via the Hard Start, a 50/50 shot created by Brooklyn bartender Damon Boelte that’s equal parts Fernet-Branca and Branca Menta, the sweeter, lower-proof, peppermint-forward version of Fernet-Branca. There’s a bit of magic when these two are combined, and while it’s traditionally prescribed as a shot, I prefer to sip it as an end-of-the-night drink in a chilled Old-Fashioned glass.
Try it in: Ferrari, Italian Exit, Hanky Panky, Bitter Handshake, Midnight Stinger