Fernet Branca, one of the most beloved cocktails in history, is also one of the most challenging to make.
It is a hard-to-find ingredient, that’s why many people are attempting to find the perfect substitute for this delicious but elusive liquor.
This is why today we’ll discuss some of the fernet Branca substitutes that are reminiscent of this drink’s unapologetically bitter, harsh, menthol-quality taste.
Some of these substitutes are Averna, Branca Menta, Amaro Braulio, Unicum Zwack, Fernet Stock, and Fernet Luxardo.
We handpicked these substitutes not only because they taste and feel like Fernet Branca but are relatively cheap and easy to find.
And if this is your first time hearing of Fernet Branca or has little knowledge of it. The following section will help iron things out.
What is Fernet Branca?
Fernet Branca is a bitter, herbal liqueur made from the same ingredients used in absinthe but with a different flavor profile.
It comes in a glass bottle with a twist-off cap—no need for fancy equipment to make it!
Fernet tastes like anise, licorice, and other herbs. It’s also different from other liqueurs because it doesn’t have sugar or artificial sweeteners added to it.
Instead, it uses sugar cane extract as its sweetener.
It can be served neat (without ice), over ice (with ice), or mixed with soda or tonic water to make a famous cocktail called a Fernet & Soda.
In addition, it is one of the only liqueurs to be aged in oak barrels for an entire year—a process that imbues it with added intensity and complexity.
And this liqueur has its share of fans, who praise it for its unusual taste.
Top 5 Best Fernet Branca Substitutes
1. Amaro Braulio
Amaro Braulio, or Amaro Branca, is a distilled spirit made from various herbs and spices, including aniseed and fennel.
It’s also one of the oldest liqueurs made in Italy, that is often enjoyed as an after-dinner digestif or with coffee.
And Amaro Braulio is often compared to Fernet Branca because it’s made from different herbs and spices, but it’s more complex and aromatic.
It tastes like vanilla with earthy undertones and can be mixed into your favorite cocktail or served on its own.
2. Branca Menta
Fernet Branca Menta is a new variation of the classic Fernet-based liqueur, which was created as an alternative for those who prefer minty flavors.
However, Branca Menta is much sweeter and mintier than the standard bottle of amaro.
It is suitable for sipping, but there are better choices in cocktails because of its lower alcohol content.
Although many people will find it a go-to choice since it is less harsh and intense than the original.
3. Fernet Luxardo
Fernet Luxardo is another type of fernet liqueur created in Italy in 1868 by Italian businessman Girolamo Luxardo after he noticed that his customers were drinking an Italian version of absinthe called Fernet-Branca.
He created his version by adding other herbs, such as aniseed and fennel seeds, to create an aromatic drink with a smoother taste than traditional absinthe.
The two drinks are similar in many ways, including their color.
But the secret to Fernet Luxardo’s distinctive taste is its long infusion time.
The gentian plant’s roots, seeds, stems, cardamom pods, licorice rootstalk, and saffron filaments are all steeped long enough to extract their full flavors.
However, if you enjoy drinking Fernet Branca, especially in mixed cocktails, consider trying its Italian counterpart: Fernet Luxardo.
Both are bitter amaro-type digestifs with similar alcohol content (40%) and flavor.
4. Fernet Stock
Fernet Stock and Fernet Branca are two different alcoholic beverages with similar tastes.
Although Fernet stock is aged for longer, this gives it a smoother, more mellow flavor.
It’s a bit sweeter than Fernet Branca, which has more of a bitter taste.
Also, Fernet Stock has a much lower cost than its more expensive cousin and other brands of liquor out there, like Jack Daniels or Jim Beam.
But it still needs to be more expensive.
5. Unicum Zwack
If you’re looking to get the most out of your Fernet Branca, try using Unicum Zwack instead of it.
Although quite intense in flavor and dark in color, you will still relish that bitter and sweet after the tone.
Unicum is made from apricot kernels. It’s sweet but has a bit of bitterness to it. It’s not really for sipping—it’s meant to be mixed with other ingredients.
Both drinks have miraculous cures for colds in the winter and can be used interchangeably in your favorite recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do Chefs Like Fernet?
When you think of a traditional cocktail, you probably picture a Manhattan or a Martini. And while both drinks are great at their right, they don’t exactly scream “classy.”
But what if we told you that there was an ingredient that could make both of those classics taste like they were straight out of a time machine?
That’s right: Fernet Branca.
Fernet Branca is a legendary digestif that chefs and bartenders have enjoyed for centuries, and it’s because of its unique flavor and versatility.
It’s perfect for adding some flair to any drink you choose.
Chefs also use it to season food without overpowering it with sweetness or sourness.
Should I Refrigerate Fernet?
Whether you plan to refrigerate Fernet is a choice that depends on what kind of cocktail you’re making, how long the drink will last, and how you want to enjoy it.
If your cocktail will be served immediately and there’s a lot of ice in the glass, then yes, you should refrigerate it.
However, if it were to be served at room temperature or colder, then no, you should not refrigerate it.
This is because Fernet is an anise-flavored liqueur, and anise flavors are more pronounced when chilled than when they’re warm. If you refrigerate the Fernet before you shake it with some ice cubes, it will taste like licorice instead of the smooth flavor we expect from Fernet.
Most people prefer to keep it anywhere, just not inside their fridge.
Is Fernet Similar To Campari?
Fernet is similar to Campari because they are both bitter herbal liqueurs. However, they have different flavors and effects. Fernet is sweeter than Campari and has a richer, more complex flavor with notes of licorice and anise.
Campari is made from herbs and spices like fennel seeds and anise, while Fernet uses herbs like coriander and gentian root instead.
Fernet also has a longer shelf life than Campari, with an optimal shelf life of three years after opening. And seen it used in place of Campari.
Is Fernet High In Sugar?
There are many different versions of Fernet on the market today, and they all have different levels of sugar content.
Some contain as little as 25 grams per bottle, which would only be about one-third of a teaspoon.
So generally, Fernet is relatively low in its sugar content.
We’ve leveled with you, and now it’s your turn: Are you willing to try Fernet Branca?
If you were lucky enough to get ahold of some Fernet Branca Substitute, we challenge you to put it to the test.
Try it with soda water. Try it in a cocktail. Try it before dinner (with a very dull knife), after dinner, or after a night-time snack (as a snack!).
And let us know what you think!