PRESENTS: STAFF PICKS

An inside look at 
FERNET-BRANCA 
with Engagement Manager, Erinn P. 

Fratelli Branca was founded 170 years ago in 1845 by Bernardino Branca. It was originally conceived as a medicine. Hospitals around Milan used to give a spoonful of Fernet-Branca to encourage patients to eat and drink.

Aged for over a year in oak, the full ingredient list remains a secret. The colour is reminiscent of wood polish and the taste has been described with words like “Listerine” and “why.” Fernet-Branca is rich, complex, and while it may or may not cure your hangover, it will definitely make you seem cooler in some social settings.

The name is so well-established it has become synonymous with the category. There are many amaro brands to choose from but Fernet-Branca dominates with the likes of Kleenex and 
Band-aid.

In North America bartenders are a key component of Fernet-Branca’s success. The drink itself is often referred to as “the Bartender’s Handshake”, with a quick shot of Fernet-Branca being a hospitality insider’s order. Some bartenders have even gone so far as to show off their love for Fernet-Branca permanently, by tattooing the iconic eagle on their body.

Cult Brand Principle #1: Rites & Rituals

The legend and lore of the Fernet challenge coin

The first ever Fernet-Branca coin was created in 2013 to consolidate what had long since been a common habit in the bartender community. When a bartender visits another bar and shows an Fernet-Branca coin to a colleague behind the counter, he is offered a free shot of Fernet, unless he is presented with another coin in response and the ‘bartender handshake’ takes place in celebration of their joint membership in the guild. 

Fernet-Branca coins rapidly came to symbolize bartender community membership. They travelled across oceans and continents to the most remote corners of the world. They not only represented a momentary achievement but an authentic collectible, jealously guarded as a status symbol and a privilege.

Cult Brand Principle #2: Congregate

Cocktail competitions have exploded in popularity as bartenders across the world compete to prove their competency behind the bar. While most competitions focus on the bartender alone, Fernet has intentionally called out the often forgotten barback and brought them into the spotlight. As opposed to the standard bartender competition, the unique Fernet-Branca event assembles barbacks to compete in challenges that test their skills like ice bucket relays, beer restocking, keg changing and bottle relays all set in an arena shaped like a giant X tire-course.

One-of-a-kind, highly sought after bar competitions


With live music and free food and drinks, they have a clear understanding of what their audience wants and isn’t afraid to celebrate the underdog - the barbacks, welcoming them with open arms into the exclusive Fernet-Branca family.

View More Brand Features