If you are a bartender in San Francisco, chances are you love and live by the Fernet bottle. Fernet has instantly transformed me into a better mood during a rough shift. Fernet has helped me make it to the bitter end with a smile on my face. There is nothing like a shot of Fernet with a ginger back. It must be a San Francisco thing.
Just in case you didn't know:
Fernet Branca is a popular brand of amaro produced in Milan, Italy. It is a bitter, aromatic spirit made from over 40 herbs and spices, including myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and saffron, with a base of grape distilled spirits, and colored with caramel coloring. The recipe is a secret, and was created by the young Maria Scala in 1845 in Milan as a medicine. Scala's name became Maria Branca through marriage, and the product's name was born. The Fernet-Branca is still produced in Milan by the company Fratelli Branca, overseen by the Branca family, though the recipe of the Italian product differs slightly from that of American bottles. Fernet-Branca is 40% alcohol by volume and is dark brown in color.
Fernet-Branca is usually served as a digestif after a meal, but may also be enjoyed with coffee and espresso, or mixed into coffee and espresso drinks. It may be enjoyed neat at room temperature or on the rocks (with ice).
Widely popular in Argentina, it is often taken as a national beverage. The most common preparation is with Coca-Cola. To make a Fernet and Coke, use a tall glass filled with ice, then pour the Fernet up to 1/3 of the glass, top off with Coke. Serve with the can of Coke and a straw.
Fernet has recently gained popularity the Czech Republic where it is served as a shot, or with tonic in a tall glass.
More recently, it has become very popular in San Francisco. The local bars often serve Fernet as a shot followed by a ginger ale chaser.
Fernet gained additional national visibility when it was reported that it is the favorite drink of 2007 U.S. Open winner Ángel Cabrera.
The drink was also the subject of a comedy routine of the same name from Bill Cosby's album Fat Albert, in which he describes his own experiences with the drink.
Because of its mysterious list of ingredients, there are a number of home remedies that call for Fernet-Branca, including treatment of menstrual and gastro-intestinal discomfort, hangovers, baby colic, and (once upon a time) cholera.