Solid evidence we Americans are evolving as a people is the steadily increasing popularity of Brancamenta. The resurgence of the cocktail and the ever-growing mixology community have lifted the amaro bitters to celebrity status. While perhaps lesser known than its older sibling, Fernet-Branca, Brancamenta is most deserving of a place in your heart.
Launched in 1960, this classic digestive is made by Fratelli Branca Distillery in Milan. The liqueur is crafted from a mix of herbs, spices, plants and roots, a partial list that includes aloe ferox, gentian, chamomile, angelica, chincona, Colombo root, Chinese rhubarb, myrrh, peppermint, saffron and eucalyptus. The crowning touch is the addition of Piedmontese peppermint essential oil and a touch of cane sugar. It contains no artificial flavors, colorants or additives.
Brancamenta contains 30% alcohol (60 proof). The lower strength creates a lush mouthfeel and allows its delectable flavors to luxuriate on the palate longer.
Brancamenta is still produced according to its original recipe. When the various botanicals arrive at the distillery, some of the herbs—such as the aloe and chamomile—are infused in boiling water and left to macerate for a month. The remainder of the ingredients is steeped in alcohol. After 30 days the two infusions are blended in a large tank and allowed to rest for 20 days to allow their flavors to fully integrate.
The aromatic blend is then filtered and transferred to Slavonian oak barrels for a year, after which it is removed from the casks and rested once again in large vats for up to a month prior to bottling.
If you've yet to spend a few moments alone with Brancamenta, you're in for a serious treat. It has a deep, reddish/brown hue, a lushly textured, medium-weight body and an enticing peppermint, menthol and herbal bouquet. Its brilliant aromatics are at once crisp, cool and invigorating. The liqueur opens slowly and gradually reveals waves of dry, somewhat bitter, slightly spicy and decidedly minty flavors. The finish is long, thoroughly satisfying and saturated with notes of eucalyptus, dark chocolate, anise and cloves.
Brancamenta enjoys enormous creative latitude behind the bar. It marries seamlessly with mixers like tonic, club soda, or cola. That said, don't miss out on the opportunity of experiencing Brancamenta neat or with crushed ice. It's a timeless pleasure.
Salute! Cin cin!