Craft distilling has become something of a tradition in the United States. From honey-based vodkas to barrel-aged gins, American craft spirit aficionados are constantly reinventing the wheel.
One trend in craft spirits has unfolded in California: amaro. Distillers have taken the traditional Italian herbal liqueur into their own hands, creating new expressions of the spirit that reflect the state’s unique terroir.
Fernet is a more bitter amaro, with a minty, herbaceous flavor associated with the Milan-born Fernet-Branca.
“San Francisco is the biggest fernet market in the United States,” says Ben Flajnik, co-founder of Fernet Francisco, California’s answer to Branca.
Flajnik teamed up with his friend Max Rudsten to create a new, more approachable, fernet using ingredients that represented their city.
Executed by master distiller Farid Dormishian, the result is a blend of handpicked herbs and botanicals – rhubarb as the backbone, with touches of spearmint, peppermint, orange peel, chamomile and bay leaf.