If you’re new to Argentinian cuisine and you want to go all-in with an authentic experience at Puerto La Boca, don’t stop at chimichurri and sweatbreads. Our cocktail menu features a sampling of Argentina’s most beloved drinks, including cocktails mixed with the rich and complex flavors of Fernet-Branca.
Fernet-Branca: Medicinal yet irresistible
Fernet-Branca is a bitter liquor that originated in Italy as a digestive elixir. By the late 19th century, the medicinal drink made its way to Argentina along with a wave of European immigrants. While the popularity of Fernet-Branca cocktails in Italy has waned over the years, consumption in Argentina is so strong that the country boasts the only Fernet production facility outside of Italy. Newcomers to the cocktail are often put off by the first sip, but Fernet’s unique combination of flavors is known to make believers out of the staunchest critics.
Rhubarb, spice, and everything nice
Fernet-Branca’s recipe is top secret, but it involves a bouquet of ingredients including rhubarb, cardamom, saffron, myrrh, chamomile, peppermint, and aloe. The highly bitter combination makes it a perfect match for sweet mixers like cola, which is why Fernet and Coke (Fernet Con Cola) is the most popular Fernet-based cocktail in Argentina.
Digestive aid and cholera cure
In addition to its promise of aiding digestion, Fernet-Branca’s original medicinal claims included the power to strengthen the body, reduce fever, restore appetite, banish tapeworms, and heal those suffering from cholera. Modern science has yet to prove Fernet-Branca’s health benefits, but they were plausible enough to satisfy U.S. authorities in prohibition-era San Francisco, where the liquor served dual roles as pharmacological wonder and illicit spirit.
Beyond Fernet Con Cola
While Puerto La Boca specializes in the classic Fernet and Coke cocktail, it’s not the only way to enjoy the liquor’s mouth-puckering flavor. The Hanky Panky features Fernet mixed with gin and sweet vermouth, while the Toronto is a riff on the Old Fashioned, served straight up with rye whiskey rather than on the rocks. According to top cocktail artists, the trick to balancing Fernet-Branca in a drink is to complement its strong flavors, not hide them, which is accomplished masterfully in the Decolletage, a New Orleans-originated cocktail that combines Fernet with tequila, Dubbonet, and Aperol, offering a mildly sweet yet bitter kick.
Fernet-Branca is a Fitting Home in Little Italy, San Diego
Fernet-Branca made the long journey across the ocean from Italy to Argentina, so it’s fitting that the liquor is experiencing a newfound burst of interest at Puerto La Boca in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. If you want to take Fernet-Branca’s cynic-to-fan challenge yourself, Puerto La Boca welcomes you to experience a truly authentic Argentinian rite of passage.