Know Your Spirits: Fernet

Don’t just drink it, understand it. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the world’s most divisive digestive …

You either love it or you hate it, there’s no middle ground with Fernet. The controversial amaro, a bitter herbal liqueur, is the unofficial national drink of Argentina, and a hipster favourite around the world.

What makes it so special? It’s a top-secret blend of over 27 different herbs and spices, like myrrh, rhubarb, cardamom, aloe and saffron, and has a distinctly bitter taste. If you’ve never had it before, you’ve now been warned – it’s not for every palate.

fernet branca what you need to know hong kong lan kwai fong
But the people that love Fernet, really love it. In fact, showing your appreciation for the hard-to-swallow booze will win you the respect of industry professionals, who tout it as a miracle cure for everything from upset stomachs to hangovers. Ordering a shot of the pungent liquid is even called a “Bartenders Handshake”. If you’re really in the loop, you’ll be able to throw down in the Fernet-Branca Challenge – but we won’t spill any secrets on that one for now.

Today there are multiple companies producing their own variations of Fernet, but the most famous is the original: Fernet-Branca. Invented in Milan in 1845 as a cholera treatment, it soon became apparent it was a better tipple than cure.

fernet branca what you need to know hong kong lan kwai fong
Rumour has it that the original recipe has been handed down to just one person in each generation, the Fernet-Branca president (currently Niccolò Branca), who personally measures out some of the ingredients.

Usually served neat as a digestif, it’s recently enjoyed a bit of a renaissance – thanks hipsters!—and you can find it in cocktails around the globe.

If you want to try it for yourself, here are three places to get your Fernet fill in Hong Kong.

fernet branca what you need to know hong kong lan kwai fong

Buenos Aires Polo Club
If the taste of Fernet is a little too strong by itself, order the El Poni (HK$138)- a combination of rum, Fernet Branca and pineapple. Or, if you’re feeling brave – you can take a straight shot from a silver riding boot at the bar, the perfect digestif after an indulgent steak dinner.

Buenos Aires Polo Club
7/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central; +852 2321 8681
www.bapoloclub.com

 

Employees Only
fernet branca what you need to know hong kong lan kwai fong

For something different, head to Employees Only for their Brixen Spritz. A refreshing, slightly bitter concoction of Aperol and Fernet Hunter, topped off with Piper-Heidsieck Champagne. They serve it on the rocks with a splash of fresh orange juice. Fernet Hunter is made in Austria and has a slightly lighter, brighter flavour profile than it’s medicinal cousin.

Employees Only
19 Lan Kwai Fong, Central; +852 2468 2755
www.employeesonlyhk.com

 

The Pontiac
fernet branca what you need to know hong kong lan kwai fong
Though Lady Branca herself, rockstar bar queen Beckaly Franks, is no longer in Hong Kong, her beloved bar is keeping her spirit alive with healthy pours of Fernet. Stop by this Mid-Levels favourite and order the My Name is Nobody. A reference to an obscure Henry Fonda film, this is a reimagining of the classic Negroni, made with Ancho Reyes, Vermouth Rosso, Aperol and Fernet Branca.

The Pontiac
13 Old Bailey Street, Central; +852 2521 3855
www.facebook.com/thepontiac

 
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