Fernet: Making and Selling it in Florida

Fernet Branca. CC licensed by Jesus Dehesa, Flickr.com.

Argentina’s Favorite Italian Spirit

Fernet is an aromatic spirit made from herbs and spices in a grape spirit base. It can be enjoyed as a digestif, as the prominent ingredient in a cocktail, or as a cocktail bitter. Fernet originated in Italy, and the Italian distillery Fratelli Branca is the leading worldwide producer. However, fernet is most popular in Argentina, especially Buenos Aires. Fernet con coca has been described as Argentina’s unofficial drink.

How Fernet’s Use Drives It’s Licensing

For licensing purposes, fernet is one of several kinds of spiritous ingredients that defies easy categorization. In some ways, fernet is a classic cocktail bitter, like Angostura. Its strong aromatic and herbal qualities that make fernet well suited as an additive for cocktails featuring other spirits. If fernet were principally used in this way, it would most likely be treated as a nonbeverage product, like other bitters. In Florida, manufacturing and selling bitters and other nonbeverage products are generally licensed in the same way as food, and not like other alcoholic beverages.

Unlike other bitters, however, fernet is equally often consumed by itself as a digestif or mixed in cocktails. This use of fernet puts it in the category of other distilled spirits, for licensing purposes.

Florida manufacturers of fernet must be licensed as distilleries by the federal TTB and the state ABT. Distribution of fernet in Florida requires a federal wholesale permit and a state KLD license, which authorizes distribution of beer, wine, and spirits. Retail vendors of fernet in Florida must have a 4COP or 4APS license, which authorized retail sales of beer, wine, and spirits. Even though some people would choose to purchase and use fernet as a cocktail bitter, it cannot be sold on grocery store shelves with other bitters.

Do you have questions about making or selling fernet or other hard to define alcoholic products? We’d love to discuss it with you. Contact us at contact@brewerlong.com to schedule a consultation.

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