The Bitter Truth: Three Fernet-Branca Alternatives to Try Right Now

fernet-branca alternatives amari

Photograph by Toan Trinh

Thanks to intense ardor from the restaurant-industry crowd, the bitter Italian amaro Fernet-Branca is today’s “it” digestif. If you’ve tried it and don’t get what all the minty (er, “mouthwash-y”) fuss is about, don’t despair—there may be a similar libation more to your liking. Sam Treadway, the bar manager at Backbar, actually prefers other types of amari—including less-heralded Fernets—and stocks a dozen of them at his bar. Here, he suggests three alternatives.

The Alterna-Fernets

R. Jelinek Fernet: A softer, Czech variety with “dry cinnamon and herb” notes that’s “very easy to sip.”

Fernet-Vallet: A Mexican version that originated when a Frenchman immigrated to Mexico. While the menthol is dialed way back, it boasts notes of “crisp, alpine spice.”

And Don’t Miss

Cynar: An artichoke-based style of amaro that Treadway praises for the nuance it brings to cocktails, as well as for its sipping appeal. “I think Cynar is quite pleasant to drink on its own,” Treadway says. “It’s as if a raisin got infused with rosemary and spice, and then got sautéed with vegetables.”

All products are available at Backbar by the glass and at Ball Square Fine Wines, in Somerville.