Tempus Fugit 'Fernet del Frate'
Although categorized under Italian Amari (Bitters), Fernet is its own bitter category and is most often listed under Elixir/Elisir in Italian liquor manuals when not simply called "Fernet." The extremely bitter (amarissimo is an apt description) concoction has conflicting data as to its origins. A recent Tempus Fugit discovery of an original Italian invoice and recipe attributed Fernet to a monk named Frate Angelico Fernet, who may have been responsible for the origin of many herbal tonics and elixirs. Fernet is a historical French Burgundy surname — pronounced "Fair-Nay" and underwent many spelling transformations. It was most likely created to counteract the effects of cholera and malaria, but went on to be used for everything from a laxative to a hangover cure. Today there are still several Italian Fernet producers (with the largest making so much of the world's production that some actually believe Fernet is a brand name), but most is made in tiny quantities for local rural Italian consumption. The various known recipes most typically share ingredients such as aloe, saffron, quinquina, gentian, anise, angelica, mint and myrhh. This latter ingredient (along with saffron) seems to define and create the backbone of the best Fernet