On July 9th, 1816, Argentina declared its independence from Spain. Since I’m not much of a historian, I’ll skip all the details and send you to the Wikipedia if you’d like more information about this event (click here).
So the question is, what does Fernet-Branca and Pepsi Cola have to do with Argentine Independence Day? Apparently, Fernet is one of the most popular drinks in Argentina (the Fernet distillery in Argentina produces over 23 million liters per year), and mixing it with a Pepsi or Coca-Cola is a very common way to drink it. According to a website called The Real Argentina, the Fernet and Cola is so popular in Argentina, that when Argentinian golfer Angel Cabrera won the 2007 U.S. Open, he decided to have a Fernet and Cola as his celebratory drink rather than the customary Champagne. Since this drink is so popular with the people of Argentina, I thought that mixing up one of these cocktails would be a great way to join in the celebration.
Now before you head out and buy the ingredients to make this drink, I must warn you. Fernet is a very strong flavored spirit that most Americans will probably not like (my fellow Booze Dancers loathe the stuff). Here’s what Wayne Curtis, a writer for The Atlantic, has to say about Fernet-Branca:
“Your first sip of Fernet Branca, an Italian liqueur, will be akin to waking up in a foreign country and finding a crowd of people arguing in agitated, thorny voices outside your hotel window. It’s an event that’s at once alarming and slightly thrilling, and leaves you wanting to know more. Other than that, it’s hard to describe what Fernet Branca tastes like; it mostly tastes like Fernet Branca. But to give you an idea: in 1960, Betsy von Furstenberg was suspended from Actors’ Equity for spiking Tony Randall’s onstage drink with it. Randall believed he had been poisoned with iodine.”
While I usually enjoy it straight, I thought I would use Argentine Independence Day as my opportunity to finally try the Fernet and Cola. Here’s the recipe from The Real Argentina:
- One tumbler glass
- 1 part Fernet Branca
- 7 parts Coca Cola
- Three ice-cubes
- Keep the bottle of Fernet Branca at hand for finishing
Directions: Put the ice-cubes in the tumbler. Avoid using more than 3 ice cubes or the final result will be too watery. Add the measure of Fernet, and then slowly pour in the Coca Cola. Allow that brown chocolaty foam to rise in the glass. Then the vital Argentinean touch: we kill it! Just before the foam reaches the brim, add a few more drops of Fernet – and surprise! – it stops rising. These extra drops are essential. They give the first sip that added punch of bitterness that we have learned to love so much.
Since I’m a fan of big, bold flavors, it’s no surprise that I really like this drink. The sweet Pepsi takes the edge off of the Fernet, but it doesn’t kill it completely. The herbal, bitter notes still come through, while the sugar and carbonation from the Cola help to round things out. When I made the drink shown above, I filled the glass about a third of the way up with Fernet (about three times the amount listed in the recipe), so it still had that bracing, bitter finish that I really enjoy.
Please join me and raise a glass of Fernet and Cola in honor of Argentine Independence Day! I will leave you with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s kind words for the people of Argentina…
“On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Argentina as you celebrate your Independence Day this July 9.
As you honor your founding, your rich history, and turn your attention toward the celebration on Avenida 9 de Julio, the United States joins you as a partner and friend. This is a time to reflect on our mutual commitment to advancing human rights, expanding educational opportunities, and spurring even greater science and technology innovations.
On this special day, the United States wishes all Argentines a happy celebration, and we look forward to continuing to work together to give more people in both our countries the opportunity to live up to their potential.”