Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Branca Menta: Is it the Devil?

Today we look at one of many pictures of Fancy Fernet Adverts taken by our lovely traveling correspondent. But unlike the rest of her handiwork, this is not a picture of something delicious or art deco-y or exciting. Nay, my friends. This is a picture of something that Your Fernetiquette is here to warn you sternly to avoid. That thing is the Emerald Evil known as Branca Menta.

The ad is from Argentina. The Limon is apparently from Peru.

Many* of my American readers are probably thinking to themselves: "Branca Menta? What is this thing that I have never heard of or tried as it is neither hip nor offered in any bar or restaurant ever? I am SO CONFUSED." So for them, allow me to explain: Branca Menta is the Branca distillery's spin off of their wonderful Fernet-Branca.

It's not a good spinoff like A Different World. No, it's the Saved by the Bell: The College Years of Italian bitters. Except eeeevil.

Artist's rendering

I was first exposed to Branca Menta a few years ago when I noticed that the corner store on my block was selling bottles. Intrigued, I shelled out the $26.99 + tax and crv. It looked something like this.

Non-artist's rendering

Now, I (obviously) love me some Fernet. But I also looooove all things mint. Peppermint, spearmint, whatevermint... it doesn't matter, I am in and can't get enough. I take Altoids three at a time. Last year for Christmas, the ladyfriend got me a five pound brick of Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark. This year, my stocking consisted of nothing but mint candies and those adorable wee lil Fernet bottles. True story.

Point is I'm a fan of mint, see.

My favorite way to induce massive stomach cramps

Given my proclivities, I naturally assumed that the Fernet + Mint combo in Branca Menta would be like washing my tongue in pure, uncut awesome. Um... not so. Rather than finding a way to pleasantly accentuate the naturally minty-esque flavor of Fernet Branca, it tastes like they just melted in some cheap green mint chip ice cream and called it a day. Whereas Fernet-Branca is a stark herbacious punch to the palate, Branca Menta is a sickly, filmy, vaguely creamy thing with none of the verve or panache of the original. And I hated it.

I was so disgusted by the stuff that had to pawn the bottle off on a friend who mixed it with some PBR as we watched college football.

Friend not pictured

Still, this stuff is obviously quite popular in Argentina or they wouldn't bother advertising it. Maybe it would go better with cola or lemon-lime soda, but the experience was so hugely disappointing that I figured the only way I'd ever try Branca Menta again would be if I did something monumentally stupid like start a dumb blog about the Branca company's primary product.

So obviously, I've got some work to do. Sigh.

Adorable wee lil Branca Menta bottle! Evil can be cute too.

*This is a lie. I do not have many readers.
Filed under: fernet adverts, Branca Menta is the devil, Those adorable wee lil fernet bottles, MSPaint Skillz, The Argentine Menace, no seriously it's the devil


  1. As a long time Fernet fan I've just discovered the Menta and, Googling around for cocktail recipes, found this post. And, what can I say, except that you're insane? This stuff is insanely good. It's a lighter, more energetic Fernet, with a nice cooling aftertaste. A perfect sipper for morning, noon, or night, or any other time that you don't feel like brushing your teeth. It may not have the zing of the original formula, but it has a charm all its own and you owe it to yourself to buy another bottle, sip deeply, and enjoy that which is this fine minty beverage.

  2. I've been a fan of Fernet Branca for a handful of years. As an end-of-service ritual, a former chef of mine mandated the tandem practice of a Miller High-Life backed by a swift shot of fernet, (thanks, Pete). Those were good times. Aware of the Branca Menta for quite some time, it had eluded me until 11/8/10, two nights ago, in fact. We wandered into Jamaica Plain's, (Boston), Gallway House for a post dinner nightcap. Holy shit, there it was, perched between two bottles of it's kin, the mighty fernet. We ordered two, and the barkeep wisely poured them into petit snifters. At a a fucking no-frills neighborhood Irish pub!!! It was one of the most delicious amaros that I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy. It had the viscosity of Averna, Melletti, or Nonino. A bit heavier than, say, Ramazotti or Cynar. It was sweet without being cloying while retaining the well-loved punch of a fernet. Am now on the hunt for a bottle of my own. Branca Menta is a beautiful, post-meal sipping amaro, and you sir are a douchebag for giving away your bottle. Shame on you!!! Great site tho.

  3. As previous poster said, you're nuts. BM is great morning, noon or night! Just got back from Argentina and I had a BM every time I went out!

  4. I love both Fernet and Branca Menta; I have long been a fan of Fernet, but this last summer I was introduce to Branca Menta in Naturno, Italy. Loved It! When I returned to the States (Reno), couldn't find it anywhere until someone tipped me off that a Grocery Outlet (!) had cases of it (guess they received it by accident). So I ran down there immediately and bought a case! Still love my Fernet, but now and then a Branca Menta is perfect too!

  5. I want to try the Fernet on tap at the Bullit in S.F.!

  6. As you probably know, Fernet is the drink of choice in Argentina. And a Branca Menta mixed with Sprite is amazing! But I bought a bottle of Branca Menta in the US and the liquid is brown and doesn't taste as good! In Argentina, it's a bright green color and it foams and fizzes in a sprite to make this really cool bright green drink. I don't know why there's a difference between Argentinian Branca Menta and North American, but down there it's way better!

  7. Just tried Branca Menta for the first time. Branca Menta and tonic, I thought, was only so-so.

    But the "Mentagroni" was simply outstanding. Equal parts gin, Campari, and Branca Menta on the rocks. Highly recommended.

  8. Buddy, try Sprite and Brancamenta. Its wonderful.

  9. The Gin Mill in Dallas, TX has it! Headed there for happy hour tonight to try it for the first! After reading about it, I'm fucking excited!