Letherbee's Fernet is finally ready

The Chicago distillery is launching its new fernet with a party at Parson's on June 30

Letherbee's Fernet hits the shelves.

Letherbee's Fernet hits the shelves. Photograph: Clayton Hauck

Fernet has been a popular cocktail ingredient for the past few years (you're probably most familiar with Fernet-Branca, a bitter, minty amaro), but there hasn't been a Chicago version, until now.

Given its propensity for making special gins, it's no surprise that Letherbee is the first Chicago distillery to get into the Fernet game.

"We wanted to make something we thought was much more interesting than Branca," Letherbee's Brenton Engel says. "We wanted to make something that people would sip slowly as opposed to shoot."

The Fernet, which launches June 30 at a party on Parson's patio, is made with neutral grain spirits and a combination of about 20 herbs, roots and other ingredients, including rhubarb root, licorice root, mint, peppermint, spearmint and eucalyptus, while caramelized beet sugar and glycerin add a "nice mouthfeel and nice viscosity," Engel says.

The most important herb in the Fernet, Engel says, is saffron. "It's magic. It's one of those flavors that's really hard to pinpoint, but it adds something that affects you on a primordial level."

While the Fernet hasn't been bottled until now, you may have tried it in a cocktail at Analogue, where the Letherbee team tested batches with supplies the bar provided.

The launch party is from 4–8pm on the Parson's patio and will feature a Fernet cocktail, slushy specials and music from DJ Dave Mata.

The bottle of Fernet will be available the week of June 30 and will retail for around $33. Find it at Provenance, Maria's Packaged Goods, In Fine Spirits, Lush and other retailers.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)