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Chartreuse vs. Fernet: Which Is the Better Digestif to End Your Epic Holiday Feast?

A real battle of legendary nightcaps.

Chartreuse and Fernet-Branca Supplied

The meal is over, the night nearly done. Your host, sensing the need for a digestif, offers up one last drink. “You devil!” you think. There, staring at you, a choice between the herbal liqueurs Green Chartreuse and Fernet-Branca. Both are legendary nightcaps, touted for their medicinal powers and abilities to ease your body at the end of an epic feast. Experientially, the two couldn’t be more different, but for the fact that they’re both refined and punchy and devastatingly delicious ways to conclude the evening. And you can pick only one. 

Chartreuse

Fernet

MADE BY

Actual Carthusian monks

A Carthusian monk with a glass of Chartreuse liqueur in the distillery at the Monastery of the Grande Chartreuse in Dauphine, south-eastern France.  Original Publication: Picture Post - 6860 - Monks Make A Drink For Christmas - pub. 1953   (Photo by Bert Hardy/Getty Images)

A Carthusian monk with a glass of Chartreuse liqueur.  Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

 

MADE BY

An actual Italian count, Niccolò Branca

NICCOLO BRANCA PRESIDENTE E AD  BRANCA INTERNATIONAL SPA

Niccolò Branca  Clemente Marmorino/Imageeconomica

MADE SINCE

1737

MADE SINCE

1845

DUBIOUS ORIGIN STORY

The recipe is known as the Elixir of Long Life, allegedly given to the Carthusian monks by a marshal of King Henry IV’s artillery in 1605. The monks worked on

DUBIOUS ORIGIN STORY

It was made by the Branca family but formulated, they claimed, by Dr. Fernet, a 100-year-old Swedish chemist who almost certainly never existed.

NUMBER OF BOTANICALS

130-plus

NUMBER OF BOTANICALS

“27,” with the real number closer to 40

ABV

55%

ABV

39%

HOLLYWOOD CAMEO

Quentin Tarantino in Death Proof: “Chartreuse! The only liquor so good they named a color after it.”

2JHM13R DEATH PROOF MOVIE POSTER, DEATH PROOF, 2007

Death Proof movie poster, 2007  Maximum Film /Alamy Stock Photo

HOLLYWOOD CAMEO

Michael Caine in The Dark Knight Rises: “Every year, I took a holiday. I went to Florence, there’s this café, on the banks of the Arno. Every fine evening, I’d sit there and order a Fernet-Branca.”

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 02:  Actor Michael Caine attends Sony Pictures Classics' Premiere Of "Sleuth" at the Paris Theatre on October 2, 2007 in New York City.  (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Actor Michael Caine  Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

SURPRISING POPULARITY

For all the French digestif culture, Chartreuse’s biggest market is the United States, thanks largely to the resurgence of cocktail bars.

SURPRISING POPULARITY

Beloved in Argentina, where the national cocktail is Fernet and Coke.

FANS SAY IT TASTES LIKE

Incomparable herbaceous complexity and depth; the best liqueur ever made.

FANS SAY IT TASTES LIKE

Deep, bright and herbaceous bitterness with a long peppermint finish.

HATERS SAY IT TASTES LIKE

A garden on fire; an angry and aggressive forest.

HATERS SAY IT TASTES LIKE

Boiled wood chips; pre-Hippocratic medicine; an after-dinner mint in hell.

WHAT IT COSTS

$60

WHAT IT COSTS

$35

IF YOU DID WANT IT IN A COCKTAIL

The Last Word, high proof and explosively delicious. Equal parts gin, lime juice, maraschino liqueur and Green Chartreuse.

Green Chartreuese Last Word Cocktail

Green Chartreuese cocktail  Stock Adobe

IF YOU DID WANT IT IN A COCKTAIL

The Toronto, the perfect last drink on a cold night. A couple ounces of rye whiskey, a teaspoon of simple syrup and a half ounce of Fernet-Branca.

Fernet cocktail

Fernet cocktail  Alex Casas/Stock Adobe

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