A household name in Italy and a cult hit abroad, Fernet-Branca is one of Italy's more unusual drinks. Its thick, bitter flavour makes it something of an acquired taste, but those who do like it often love it. Alcohol content seems to vary slightly by country, but the (Italian) bottle I have in front of me has an alcohol content of 43%. While some other distillers produce their own versions of Fernet, these have never achieved the popularity of the Branca drink, and the word "Fernet" usually implies Fernet-Branca.
What exactly is Fernet-Branca? Fernet-Branca is a dark, syrupy alcoholic drink similar to an amaro, with a flavour that's best described as being a cross between medicine, crushed plants and bitter mud. The exact recipe of Fernet-Branca is a secret but the producers, Fratelli Branca Distillerie, do say that it contains 27 different herbs and spices taken from four continents. Among the known ingredients are aloe, gentian root, rhubarb, gum myrrh, red cinchona bark, galanga and zedoary. The rumoured ingredients include saffron.