Fernet Branca 1

Since I'm through with my cocktail of the day calendar for 2008 (this year's is green/eco tips - but it doesn't combine weekend days like last year's: how is that green?), I decided to start the year by investigating some of the bottles I'd bought for one, maybe two, recipes in that calendar and are now cluttering my liquor closet.

I'm starting with Fernet Branca, which I'd never heard of before last year. Its mentholy taste intrigued me - not that I liked it much in my first cocktail.

Fernet Branca seems to be in the air and gaining foodie buzz fast. The Wall Street Journal ran an excellent piece on it last Saturday (see here: http://sec.online.wsj.com/article/SB123092858411149807.html).

The author of that article describes it as a long-time digestif, which makes sense with all its secret herbs and spices. You have to be toting hardened taste buds to take it, and as he writes, few people drink it straight. I thought drinking Campari showed you had hair on your chest (or the female equivalent), but FB sets the bar much higher. Chartreuse as a digestif is a children's for what ails you in comparison.

The WSJ writer observes that FB is best used as a replacement for bitters: where your cocktail recipe calls for a dash of bitters, like in an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, use a dash of FB instead. In general I'd agree with him, although I think FB can be more interesting in a drink than just used as cocktail Tabasco.

In the next few posts I'll be investigating various cocktails made with FB, and I'll let you know which ones have potential. FB isn't always easy to find (I had to order it online), but I think you'll find it a worthwhile addition to your liquor cabinet.