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Portland Now Makes Its Own Fernet, the Unofficial Drink of the Hospitality Industry

Local Thomas & Sons Distillery releases its version of the bitter liqueur today

Distiller Seth O'Malley
Distiller Seth O'Malley
Mattie John Bamman/EPDX

This just out: Thomas & Sons Distillery, the project by Townshend's Tea Company, releases its first-ever fernet today. Fernet is a bold style of bitter liqueur typically made with 20-plus herbs and other, often secret, ingredients. In the hospitality industry, Italy's Fernet-Branca has become a sort of cult concoction, used to alleviate all manner of life's ailments.

Today, May 18, Thomas & Sons releases 350 bottles of its Northwest-style fernet, with ingredients like Douglas fir, birch bark, and hops, and head distiller Seth O'Malley tells Eater he's wanted to make a fernet since starting at Thomas & Sons.

"After throwing out twenty-some buckets of undrinkable prototypes," says O'Malley, "I've landed on a recipe that shows off some of my favorite Pacific Northwest aromas." Thomas & Sons distills and blends the fernet from scratch, using fresh and dried botanicals—some foraged by O'Malley himself—without flavorings or colorants.

Thomas & Sons says its fernet costs $34.95 a bottle and is available in its Southeast tasting room today through this weekend (limited to two bottles per person; hours Wednesday through Friday, from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 7 p.m.).

After this weekend, a small number of cases will be sent to OLCC-run liquor stores throughout the state, and O'Malley and the team will set to work producing the next batch.

[Photo]

Thomas & Sons Distillery

4211 SE Milwaukie Ave, Portland, OR 97202 (503) 984-1561

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