The Street Where I Live

British by birth, New Yorker by nature.

Fernet Branca

Fernet Branca

Food and DrinkAlexandra kingComment

Be honest, did you overdo it a little this weekend? 

Now's the time for a secret weapon that I'm ready to share with the world. A magic medicine that will cure you of indigestion, head aches, drunkenness (yes, really) and hangovers.

Though praising alcohol for its medicinal qualities is long out of vogue, let it be known that if I ever find myself smashed to pieces at the bottom of a particularly vicious avalanche in the Alps, waiting mournfully for the St Bernard, I damn well hope he's got some Fernet Branca.

Fernet Branca is a strange herby-brown colored bitters, and though you will probably only find a bottle in the back shelf of your local booze emporium, covered in dust,  it is magical, and not to be ignored. It was invented in Italy, and the recipe is so secret that even today the exact quantities are only known and personally measured out, batch by batch, by the company's president. It's used primarily as a digestif, neat and over ice, and quite simply, it's a strange and marvellous kind of medicine. Something about the herbs and the booze seems to give a little lightning bolt of palate cleansing energy, and though to the unaccustomed it might first taste a little bit like mouthwash, trust me, it grows on you. It's also a terrific hang over cure.


Research shows that a glass also seems to be the secret weapon of chefs worldwide, whose necessarily gluttonous lifestyles demand a Fernet habit. The rad british chef Fergus Henderson, of beloved London restaurant St John, has a great recipe for a post night out Fernet called a "Dr Henderson" named after his "wise father". The recipe is here- though in the sage words of Fergus, "be careful – this is so effective you can find yourself turning to its miraculous powers with increasing regularity. Don’t let the cure become the cause."

Fernet Branca. Run to get your bottle now. You're welcome.