We’ve spotlighted kombucha, a fermented, probiotic tea, in the past, so hearing about kombucha fernet stopped us in our tracks. If you don’t know, fernet is an Italian amaro, most often served as a digestif after a meal. It’s made from herbs and spices like rhubarb, chamomile, and saffron, with a base of grape distilled spirits. So why not give this sipper a gut-friendly boost?
In our kombucha piece, we encouraged readers to mix up the bubbly drink with tequila and juice for a probiotic margarita – so we’re definitely not opposed to taking this “health” drink and giving it a boozy twist. Apparently, Lindsay Lohan had the same idea. Munchies points out that when the actress was placed under house arrest in 2011 after testing positive for alcohol, she claimed that all she’d been drinking was kombucha. As you may or may not know, some alcohol naturally occurs in kombucha since it’s a fermented beverage.
Lohan is allegedly the inspiration behind Thomas & Sons Distillery’s marriage of the millennial-favorite Whole Foods drink and alcohol. The Portland Ore. distillery began as a tea shop (Townshend’s Tea Company) in 2006, and branched out to kombucha later. After Lohan’s incident, they wanted to figure out how to regulate the alcohol content of the kombucha – a difficult task since using a traditional method, like a column still, would kill the bacteria in the drink. This bacteria, which is supposed to promote gut health, is the main attraction of kombucha. The brewery’s solution? A vacuum still.
“It’s a really extra complicated vacuum still that allows us to achieve distillation at a very low temperature, just below 100 degrees Fahrenheit,” head distiller Seth O’Malley told Munchies. This process keeps that good bacteria in the kombucha, and produces pure alcohol as a byproduct.
“We separate the alcohol from the kombucha, and through a long, windy process turn that alcohol into fernet and all sorts of weird stuff.”
By “weird stuff,” O’Malley means a range of tea liqueurs, Italian amari and botanical spirits, all distilled from a fermentation of tea and sugar. They make gin from jasmine green tea, lavender flowers, chamomile and juniper; amaro from Assam black tea and Indian spices. And the fernet? With notes of Douglas Fir, Willamette Hops and birch bark, this liquor boasts, “No caramel color. No nonsense.” That’s a business model we can get behind.