a pinch or pack of perfect spices...

It’s actually 4 or 5 days late but let’s face it, having just started this blog, our readers are well, limited.  The untimely subject of this blog is hangover cures and the role of spices and herbs therein.  We have discovered what we believe is the Holy Grail of hangover cures.  We all know that the best remedy for the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal is…more alcohol.  (Otherwise known as The Hair of the Dog.)  But, there’s more to it than that and a way to fix it that wont have you spending yet another day stumbling around and making unwise decisions.  It’s called Fernet Branca.ccording to Wikipedia:

Fernet is made from a number of herbs and spices but may include myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and saffron, with a base of grape distilled spirits, and colored with caramel coloring.

The Branca family conceived the original formula in 1845. “It was born as a medicine,” (great-great-grandson) Branca says, and for decades Fernet was touted for its healthful effects. As recently as 1962, Suburbia Today recommended it for “overeating, flatulence, hangovers, gas pains, [and] lifting yourself off the floor when you’ve mixed oysters and bananas.”

Back in the day — like all the good stuff — Fernet Branca was made with opiates (why do we always miss the good ol’ days?)  and it was said that a shot would make you feel like rearranging the furniture.  We tried it on New Years Day and while no furniture was rearranged, we went from feeling like hell to breezily doing some light dusting.

The key is in the combination of herbs and spices, the recipe for which remains a secret to this day.  Assuming that, like us, you will have other days throughout the year where a hangover remedy is required, do this:  Pour a shot of Fernet into a glass of Coke with ice and drink it down.  (Or into some iced coffee if you prefer but we believe the sugar is also key.)  The Argentinians do it with cola, the Italians do it with coffee and the Germans do it with Red Bull.  You will not believe what happens.  Not only is your head clear and your spirit fresh but it is instantaneous!

Strangely, Fernet Branca has a cult following in San Francisco which accounts for about 25 percent of U.S. sales. R Bar, in the Tenderloin area, goes through some 100 bottles a month, and co-owner Tod Alsman says that about 95 percent is consumed as shots, often with a ginger-ale chaser. Why so popular in San Francisco but not in other cities that historically have had large Italian-American populations? “Nothing really seems to explain it,” Alsman admits. Might we suggest that all that liberal angst and fighting for gay rights is giving everyone agita?

We should warn you about one thing which you may have already guessed…the taste.  The Atlantic Monthly says:

Your first sip of Fernet Branca, an Italian liqueur, will be akin to waking up in a foreign country and finding a crowd of people arguing in agitated, thorny voices outside your hotel window. It’s an event that’s at once alarming and slightly thrilling, and leaves you wanting to know more. Other than that, it’s hard to describe what Fernet Branca tastes like; it mostly tastes like Fernet Branca. But to give you an idea: in 1960, Betsy von Furstenberg was suspended from Actors’ Equity for spiking Tony Randall’s onstage drink with it. Randall believed he had been poisoned with iodine.

You may want to channel the lead character in Fellini’s Nights of Carbiria who consumes the stuff throughout the film.  Salute!

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One Response to “A Day Late”


  1. Elaine
    April 21, 2011
    @ 8:28 pm

    I was given a tremendous gift from your shop for my birthday, and am happily using all of the spices!

    If I might just give two comments that may help you in your packaging. ( I hope these will be taken in the spirit in which they are intended):

    One of the spices chosen was a mild curry powder. In the box that the gift was packed, the scent of curry permeated all of the other spices, and even though I removed it immediately upon receipt of the gift, 2 months later the smell of curry is with every one of the spices. It might behoove you to pack your spices in a way that very heavily scented spices are packed outside of a gift box and the client be alerted as to why this is done.

    Also, your tins, which are quite beautiful, have a particular design flaw. When one attempts to open them (the ones that are metallic and have the see through lids), the natural instinct is to try and untwist them counter clockwise. This worked for none of the tins in my box. I realized that attempting to pry it open might lead to a confetti like distribution of the spices upon my floor, so I messed around with a few of them until I realized the only way to avoid this was to gently prod them open… very gently… with a fingernail. Something to rethink, perhaps, so as to avoid sadness on the end of a gift recipient.

    With kindest regards and best wishes for a most successful venture,
    Elaine

    P.S. I would have preferred to have an email contact via your website to send this personally, but I thought my comments were worthwhile for you to receive.

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