It’s the kaleidoscope of drinks. Made from bits of roots, herbs, flowers, and spices, it offers an endless variety of multi-sensorial personalities, emotionally-colorful synesthesia, ever-changing, and reflective. An amaro can be citrusy, herbaceous, floral, vegetal, medicinal, earthy, savory – a continuous showing of some or all. These flavors are imparted through the process of maceration of botanicals in a grain spirit, often followed by blending and resting to harmonize all the flavors.
One of my early illuminating moments into amaro was with a bitter and bold fernet by Fernet-Branca. To me, it is the kaleidoscope of kaleidoscopes – with a cantankerous attitude. Dark like chestnut-colored furniture polish, mysterious as a dusty bottle in the back of the metal medicine cabinet with a label so old, it’s yellowed and snaps off like paint. Vigorous and wild like a boar in a quiet forest. A category five tornado. A medicinal concoction of a Fisherman’s Friend cough lozenge and a swig of original-flavored Listerine. A quiet and snowy lift up the mountain.
Suddenly, love, color, emotion, groovy, calm, warm, closure – all is good. Yet still an occasional tendency for divisiveness. Fernet-Branca, you’re so blissfully challenging. You extend the palette of my palate.
Like other armai (plural for amaro), Fernet-Branca is a digestif (digestivo), meant to be consumed after an overly-generous dinner.
It’s made with 27 different ingredients, and the recipe is a closely-guarded secret. Some of the herbs, flowers, and roots that are known to be included in this recipe are cinchona, a bark that contains quinine, which is effective against malaria; rhubarb, great for healthy digestion – in addition to making pies); camomile, regarded to be precious and soothing; antioxidant-rich cinnamon, and iris for its antiseptic and toning properties. We are feeling better already!
“Most of these amaro producers were pharmacy houses,” says Miklos Katona, director of beverage at Brezza and Bar Zazu inside Resorts World Las Vegas. “Fernet-Branca is the most recognizable brand worldwide. They have a factory in Argentina as well, where it’s a national drink. Their rich and long history of Fernet-Branca and complex style make it one of the most popular amongst bartenders and sommeliers.”
Fernet is a subcategory of amaro, and this style receives particular attention at Brezza. And it only makes sense that the only restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip with a Fernet-Branca tap would hold an event.
On Monday, January 24th, Brezza will host a Fernet-Branca celebration event with special guest Edoardo Branca, sixth-generation member of the Branca family. Guests will enjoy a cocktail reception and Fernet-Branca-inspired fare from Executive Chef Nicole Brisson. After 10 p.m., Bar Zazu (located right next to Brezza) will host the industry after-party, where the official 2022 coin will be released and given to the lucky few!
The Fernet-Branca coins were inspired by the military tradition of challenge coins, while also paying homage to Branca history. In the late 1800s, Fratelli Branca, the parent company of Fernet-Branca, would replicate medals that Fernet-Branca won in various awards and give them out as keepsakes to consumers. The company kept this tradition alive with the creation of Fernet-Branca coins, and it has become a unique way to engage Fernet-Branca lovers and community with something tangible that connects them to the history of Fernet-Branca. They have also come to represent momentary achievement of an authentic collectible – jealously-guarded as a status symbol and a privilege.
It’s time to get one! Cheers!