Review: Faccia Brutto Fernet Pianta

Review: Faccia Brutto Fernet Pianta

Among my hardnosed and surly bartender brethren, Fernet is king… and they have a brand. Before the botanical forearm-tattooed kneecappers come for me demanding loyalty, I promise this particular Fernet will content any Bitterhead. For the uninitiated, Fernets tend to feature a few distinct ingredients that distinguish them from their Amari cousins; chief among them are saffron, rhubarb, and mind your own business (the secrecy guarding their recipes tends to exhaustive and exhausting). All boxes can be safely checked on this front. Until recent decades, most prestigious brands were Italian with a few notable exceptions in the Americas. Faccia Brutto’s Fernet Pianta is produced by Faccia Brutto Spirits in Brooklyn, New York. It is obvious that a deep appreciation for not just Fernet but the wider world of amaro resides in the hearts of Faccio Brutto. Their process and respect for the legacy brands sipped by their elders is palpable in every quaff.

A color approaching used motor oil or event horizons is typical for many Fernets, but this one sits at a refreshing deep straw gold (the results of the aforementioned saffron and some chicory). Nutmeg and orange oil are next up, meeting the nose well above the glass eagerly but not aggressively. A somewhat savory but highly anise-laden take on saffron drives this bus, leading the palate down a back alley of warm, nutty assurance. Just as rhubarb made its first appearance and I thought surely my bitter-nodes were about to be mugged, it elegantly gave way to secondary notes of peppermint and coffee, concluding with a very subtle forest floor finish. 

The sometimes-patronizing moniker of “craft” does not apply to the drinking experience here, as Fernet Pianta shows off some solid layers of complexity. But much like an American “Tuscan” restaurant trying to replicate a storied trattoria, the flavors are wonderfully reimagined, though they do bely a reproduction. The texture is somewhat oily slick, but not intolerably. A heavy citrus hand is certainly welcome in a Fernet, even if it is making a pretty loud statement about its pedigree with some suggestive acid. If you’re cocktailing, be aware that Fernet Pianta is not a 1:1 swap for more classic brands, but it will be less domineering in the glass with lighter spirits. An excellent nightcap or sidecar that’s deserving of a spot in your bitter rotation.

70 proof.

A- / $45 /

Faccia Brutto Fernet Pianta




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