Bartenders head to Italy for Fernet-Branca UK final


Six bartenders have reached the UK final of a competition challenging them to come up with drinks using classic Italian bitter liqueur Fernet-Branca.

After a series of regional heats, they are set to compete in front of judges at the Branca Distillery in Milan this Wednesday for the chance to win a top prize of £1,000 in cash.

The six finalists are Mark Delaney of Filter & Fox in Liverpool, Issac Windsor of The Milk Thistle in Bristol, Johny Hume of BonBar in Newcastle upon Tyne, Kyle Hamilton of Panda & Sons in Edinburgh, Jonas Stern of Pollen Street Social in London, and Ehren Khoo-Steel from Brass Monkey in Nottingham.

They were challenged to create two drinks – “one for me, one for you” – in the tradition of creating a drink that they enjoy themselves as well as one for their customers that will “keep the conversation going”.

At this week’s final, they will present their “one for me” bartender’s choice drink and also be challenged to create a cocktail from ingredients supplied on the day.

Judges will include Bar magazine editor Mark Ludmon and Nicola Olianas, marketing activation manger at Fratelli Branca Distillerie.

The trip, organised by UK distributor Hi-Spirits, also includes a visit to the Antiche distillery near Venice, where Antica Sambuca is made, the Carpano Museum in Turin and the Lazzaroni Amaretto distillery in Saronno.

The overall winner will also be invited to join the Fernet-Branca Secret Society, an exclusive drinks industry group that celebrates the heritage and versatility of the liqueur.

Invented in Milan in 1845 by Bernardino Branca, Fernet-Branca is a digestif amaro liqueur with a distinctive bitter flavour which is still made to a closely guarded original recipe.

Along with Fernet-Branca and the minty Branca Menta, other drinks from Fratelli Branca Distillerie distributed in the UK by Hi-Spirits include classic vermouths Carpano Antica Formula and Carpano Punt e Mes.

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