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Cover: Shaken and stirred

04May 12

Fernet with Coke

Fernet with ColaToday, I want to tell you about a friend of mine and how he got me hooked on one of the most unlikely drinks in history. Rodrigo Bueno, “el Potro” (the stallion), as his friends called him, was a Jet Ski instructor I met in Benidorm, in the south of Spain. I don´t know if you have ever met an Argentine before, but I think he epitomized the concept: dark skin, amazing looks, and an undying love for a drink which I had never heard of before: Fernet Branca. For almost a fortnight, we got together and supped on this very strange drink. And every time, we ended up talking about childhood memories, friends, and all the topics which make you feel closer to home when you are abroad.

Fernet Branca (or just Fernet to Rodrigo and his friends) is an Italian liqueur, with a top-secret recipe that hasn’t changed since its creation in 1845. Fratelli Branca, one of the oldest companies to manufacture Fernet, say it includes 27 different herbs and spices taken from four continents: including South African aloe, gentian root, chamomile, iris, rhubarb, gum myrrh, red cinchona bark, galangal, cinnamon, zedoary, and yellow Iranian saffron.

The dark syrupy liqueur has a bitter, almost medicinal herbal flavor. While some would say it’s an acquired taste, in Argentina, it’s the national cocktail; more than 10 million bottles of it are consumed every year.

So what is so special about a drink which just consists of Fernet Branca and cola? Rodrigo explained it to me one day, with just a gesture. We were sitting on a terrace (I forget whose!) and I asked him that very question. He opened his arms, looked around, and said: “This, my friend, this”. I looked up and saw a bunch of people talking, laughing their heads off and having a good time. And that is what I cherish about my memories of Fernet and my Argentine friends.


  • 6 cl Fernet Branca
  • 27 cl Coke
  • Ice

How to make it like a real Argentine:
1. Start by pouring the Fernet over the ice in a tall frosted glass.
2. Slowly add the Coke.
3. When it begins to froth (which Fernet does, for some reason), sip.
4. Add more Coke and sip, until the right flavor combination has been reached.

Time: 1 minute
Makes: 1 cocktail

Note: Another typically Italian liqueur is limoncello. I suggest having a go at this Kirsch and limoncello Tanqueray presse.

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  1. I would probably garnish this with a few cherries to girly it up. :=)

  2. Why not just use cherry coke? Duh!!


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