Booze Banter

California Fernet vs. Fernet-Branca PLUS a Ferrari Cocktail Showdown

Thanks to the wonders of technology, the West Coast Office and His Better Half (aka Mrs. Satellite Engineer aka LAKocktail. Never let it be said that we don’t love a good alias around here!) gathered at Krouse Island while I saddled up to The Murder Table for a Coast-to-Coast tasting of two very different Fernets and two very different Ferrari Cocktails which were made with those very different Fernets (and some Campari). While none of us consider ourselves to be Fernet and Ferrari Cocktail experts, we definitely had opinions!

For this very special tasting, we first sampled the Fernets as-is, and then tried them in a Ferrari Cocktail. Before we get to the video, here are a few words about each product and the Ferrari Cocktail:

California Fernet by Geiger Spirits

A dry and grassy Fernet that slaps you in the face – in a good way. Our Fernet will make its mark on the current amari landscape. It is rich and complex, yet not overpowering. It is grassier and less sweet than other Fernets on the market, and its 21 roots, herbs and spices are playfully balanced for the drinker.

Fernet-Branca by Fratelli Branca

Sip No. 1 – The first sip is rapture and the sudden discovery of something unexpected: truth reveals itself. The natural bitter taste of Fernet-Branch and its herbs presents itself firmly to the palate, and like the beginning of a great novel, reveals its quality while concealing its secrets. Just when you start to think that it might be best to give up, you are drawn by the curiosity to have another sip.

Sip No. 2 – The start of an engaging journey, where you discover the wide range of spices that interact harmoniously and secretly. The palate senses the depth of the flavor from the botanical herbs and spices and begins, on its own, to recompose the structure of Fernet-Branca taste. The nose picks up the myrrh and its unexpected softness, while the bitter taste becomes sophisticated, tannic, and pleasantly balsamic.

Sip No. 3 – As you take the third sip the pleasure remains, and is emboldened by the challenges of your journey thus far. The pleasure highlights the most reassuring aromas of the spices and freshness of the herbs, and finally unveils the exotic side to Fernet-Branca. The experience has now transformed and the sweeter and more delicate notes of the plants and flowers come to the fore, leaving the bitter taste in the background. The olfactory perception is completed and the palate is ready to welcome new discoveries from all future sips.

The Ferrari Cocktail per Serious Eats

Some drinkers will enjoy this two-ingredient shot’s bracing bitterness; others will think of it as Hell’s hazing ritual. Me? I love the pants off of it. The Campari’s subtle orange flavors pair well with (and somewhat tames) Fernet’s minty fist. This drink won’t convert anyone who hates either Fernet Branca or Campari, but if you love either or both, you should try this.

While the West Coast Office was terrified by the thoughts of all this, Mrs. Satellite Engineer and I were hyper-enthusiastic participants, and we definitely had A LOT to say about all of this. To see and hear it all, click the play button on the following video:

If you like what you saw and heard, please subscribe to our blog and YouTube Channel. It’s the easiest and BEST way to find out what we’ll be tasting next!


Many thanks to Vision Wine and Spirits for sending us these very generous California Fernet Samples!

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