Why You Should Sip Fernet This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is for giving thanks. It's obvious, it's right there in the name. It just seems like at some point it was decided that the best way to give thanks was to absolutely stuff yourself with more food than stuffing in a Turkey. This leaves those who celebrate feeling tired, sleepy, and uncomfortably full. This year though, give yourself a fighting chance. Reach for a bottle of Fernet.

Memorie di Angelina claims that Fernet is an Italian liqueur that falls into two distinct subcategories, the amaro and the digestivo. Amaro, meaning bitter in Italian, is a category of spirits that typically have a more bitter flavor profile — due to the infusion of countless varieties of herbs and spices. Many are also aged in oak casks to further add to their earthy nature. Digestivo, or digestive, is a wider category that many bitters typically fall under. Eataly says that it is a type of liquor enjoyed at the end of a meal in order to aid digestion. There are literally hundreds of variations between these two categories. But even with this much variety, Fernet stands alone.

The most famous example of a Fernet is the Fernet-Branca. According to Chilled Magazine, this chilled liqueur can trace its origins back to 1845 when it was invented by Bernardino Branca. This drink was originally conceived as a medicine, which just might explain why it's the perfect way to reset your metabolism after the indulgence of Thanksgiving.

Fernet has the power to sooth a full stomach

Baytowne Wine & Spirits says that Fernet's uniquely medicinal qualities make it the perfect finish to a Thanksgiving meal. The Guardian points out that its high acidity also seems to aid digestion. The exact ingredients present in Fernet-Branca are a well-kept secret, though Memorie di Angelina claims that it includes "aloe, gentian root, rhubarb, gum myrrh, red cinchona bark, galangal, camomile, cinnamon, saffron, iris, bitter orange, and white turmeric."

Chilled Magazine says that Fernet-Branca's medicinal properties were so well touted that it was still sold as a remedy in the U.S. during prohibition — despite its nearly 40% alcohol content. The Guardian points out that Fernet-Branca is considered an acquired taste by many, and that this reputation has led to its embrace by the bartending community.

Fernet-Branca isn't the only option out there though, and a good list of solid Fernets can be found at Baytowne Wine & Spirits. Because Fernet isn't a precisely defined spirit like bourbon there can be huge variations in flavor between different Fernets. That's why it's important to try a couple, before deciding which bottle to have on hand this Thanksgiving. Once you find the right blend of herbs and spices though, the rest of the fun comes from dreaming up the perfect after-dinner cocktail – or simply sipping it straight from the glass to ease an overburdened belly.