Sunday, January 31, 2010

You don't know my pain, Bill Simmons

AKA Fernetiquette Fisks The Sports Guy.

If you are a fan of sportswriting and under 40 years old, you probably are familiar on some level with ESPN's Bill Simmons. He is quite literally one of the fathers of modern sports bloggery. Pretty much everyone steals from him on some level, and with good reason. He's sharp, funny and immensely knowlegeable, even if he did lose his fastball about 5 years ago. (See? There I went and did it myself.) 
I like your outfit there, guy.

Recently, the Minnesota Vikings lost one of the most historically tragic games in NFL History. Not coincidentally, the Vikings are one of the most historically tragic teams in sport. This prompted Simmons to ruminate on the general topic of which teams in the four major American sports can be considered truly tortured, as opposed to teams that may kind of stink but we shouldn't really feel all that bad about in grand scheme of things.

As is typical of Simmons, he invented a bunch of arbitrary but systematic criteria to sift the purely pitiful from the merely moribund, then he ranked them in order of 1-15. These criteria were based on a column he wrote several years ago where he described the different "Levels of Losing" where level 15 is a sort of rough day and Level 1 is The Worst Moment In Your Sports Life, Ever. Now, I have no problem with the ranking concept. These types of columns are obviously subjective and meant to inspire debate, so it's a little pointless getting too worked up about where you end up on a list of teams you'd really rather not end up on at all.

But then he went and said this about my beloved Giants:

6. San Francisco Giants

Last Title: Never (unless you count 1954, when the team was in New York).

Last Truly Devastating Defeat: Game 6, 2002 World Series (sadly, no YouTube clip since MLB knocks any footage off YouTube in its never-ending quest to find ways to suck). Arguably a Level 1 loss. No moniker, though.

Rock Bottom: Game 6 again, though I forgot to mention the thundersticks.

Additional Thoughts: You'd think a 66-year title drought, the Bonds/BALCO fallout, a borderline Level 1 loss in 2002 and having its first World Series home game in 27 years postponed by a devastating earthquake during batting practice of the first-ever Bay Area World Series would get the message out that, "Hey, we need to start including these guys in all future Tortured Sports Cities discussions." Can you be underrated/tortured? Apparently so.

OH NO YOU DI'NT! According to Simmons, the worst moment in human history is "arguably" a "borderline" Level 1 loss, and the Giants are "underrated" as being a tortured team. I know I said earlier that it was a little pointless getting worked up about this, but what the fuck is he fucking talking about?!?!?
Charlie Brown was a Giants fan. Seriously.

Naturally, I could not let this aggression stand, man. You could say that I got worked up about it. You could say that. My (emailed) response to Mr. Simmons is below the jump.

WARNING: It is not for the faint of heart.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

We'd all like to be Salinger in the end

He was my favorite writer.

Cheers to you, JD. You were Great.

At least Buddy and Seymour can catch up after all these years.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Places You Can Get Fernet: Atlanta, GA

A friendly tipster from the Ay Tee Ell just sent me this, um... tip.

There are actually a couple of places in glorious Atlanta where you can get Fernet, but I'm just going to tell you about one of them:


The Local is an easygoing smoke-filled institution on that most institutional of Atlanta hipster thoroughfares, Ponce de Leon.  Not only do they serve cheap-ass PBR tallboys, fried okra, tasty barbecue, boiled peanuts, and THE BEST WINGS I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE... but they also have Fernet!

Sometimes they even serve it in little medicine-dispenser Dixie cups, which adds panache to that wonderful Fernet flavor. 

I got mine. Let's get crunk. 

Many a night you can find my friends and me crowding a booth and downing Fernet Branca in between endless baskets of wings. It's just down the street from ridiculous hipster dance club MJQ, the incredibly-underrated gay dive bar Friends, and the historic Plaza Theatre, as well as the grocery store known as "Murder Kroger."

Apparently this is an actual thing.

The Local is the sort of place where pretty much nobody is drinking a Cosmopolitan and everybody knows the words to "Raining Blood" when it comes on.  

Other people who know the words to Raining Blood? That guy.

 The food is cheap and delicious.  Can you get better than that?  

Oh wait, you can!  You can serve Fernet.  Score.

Sounds divine. Tip passed along by Lindsay, the twisted and charming young lady appearing at the bottom of this here Page 'O Horrors.
Filed Under: Places you can get Fernet, Atlanta, FUCK YEAH SLAYER, the yuppies here shop at Manslaughter Whole Foods, I'll bet that guy is a drummer

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fernetiquette Gets All Literary n' Stuff

Have you ever googled "Fernet Branca"? You probably haven't. Not surprisingly, I have. I am writing a blog here, people. It's necessary research. Should you ever decide to give it a try, you'll notice that this site is nowhere to be found. I'm sort of bitter about our exclusion, but that's cool. After all, Life is Bitter. So it goes.

On the other hand, one of the things that you will find are several links directing you to a book by James Hamilton-Paterson called Cooking with Fernet Branca. Disappointingly, it is not a cook book.

No, that's not it. This is it.

Given that I am CLEARLY way too busy authoring a dumb blog and deciding exactly how many Snuggies de Gigantes I'll be purchasing for friends and family this Spring to read this thing myself, I asked one of my besties to give the book a spin. Here's what Fernetiquette Senior Literary Correspondent Brigid J. Barry said about Cooking with Fernet Branca :

Okay so this is basically a comedic novel about a composer (from the made-up country of Voynovia) and a ghost writer (from the made-up country of England) who become neighbors on a remote Tuscan hillside.
Tuscany: Home of the best Olive Gardens in the world.

Language and cultural barriers cause many miscommunications with hilarious (and sexy...???) results.  The ghost writer is also a self-described gourmand who loves to come up with recipes that the reader will gradually realize are all a) disgusting and b) based on fernet-branca.  The composer's home country has its share of fairly nauseating cuisine.  The two find they have a secret affection for fernet in common, although they both insist out loud that it is vile. [This is how Fernet works, people. It's insidiously delicious and grows on you like a fungus.- Ed.] It is told in chapters that alternate between their perspectives, a technique which rarely works but which is quite effective here because both narrators are totally unreliable.

Like this minus the suck!

Overall I highly recommend it, especially if Fernet holds any place whatsoever in your heart. 

Which it does, obvs.

You can buy Cooking with Fernet Branca on Amazon (HINT HINT *FOR ME* HINT HINT) and enjoy some of the lovely Ms. Barry's own work here.
Filed Under: Cooking with Fernet Branca, Life is Bitter, It's not really that bad ya know, almost assuredly the only book review this blog will ever publish

Friday, January 22, 2010

Places You Can Get Fernet: Brooklyn, NY

Head's up from the Capitol of the World. Or, well, Brooklyn.

Should you find yourself in the City of Rocks, head directly to Full Circle in Williamsburg on Grand. First, because according to my sources they serve Fernet Branca. Second, and most importantly, go there because IT'S A SKEE BALL BAR. Holy shit!

Personally, I can think of no better way to spend my time than sipping on Fernet while tossing balls at just the perfect angle to so it will rim out of the 50-point hole and fall meekly towards the gutter. EVERY. TIME. Or maybe that's just me?

Regardless, were I a Brooklander (Brooklynner? Brooklouse?), I'd be over there regularly. I mean they run a friggin' skee ball league!

 Looks like a blast. This is not helping my natural San Franciscan Inferiority Complex with regards to NYC.

Filed Under: Places you can get Fernet, OMG OMG OMG, Nothing better in the world than invented amateur sports leagues, I guess this makes up for spawning the Dodgers

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Branca Menta: Is it the Devil?

Today we look at one of many pictures of Fancy Fernet Adverts taken by our lovely traveling correspondent. But unlike the rest of her handiwork, this is not a picture of something delicious or art deco-y or exciting. Nay, my friends. This is a picture of something that Your Fernetiquette is here to warn you sternly to avoid. That thing is the Emerald Evil known as Branca Menta.

The ad is from Argentina. The Limon is apparently from Peru.

Many* of my American readers are probably thinking to themselves: "Branca Menta? What is this thing that I have never heard of or tried as it is neither hip nor offered in any bar or restaurant ever? I am SO CONFUSED." So for them, allow me to explain: Branca Menta is the Branca distillery's spin off of their wonderful Fernet-Branca.

It's not a good spinoff like A Different World. No, it's the Saved by the Bell: The College Years of Italian bitters. Except eeeevil.

Artist's rendering

I was first exposed to Branca Menta a few years ago when I noticed that the corner store on my block was selling bottles. Intrigued, I shelled out the $26.99 + tax and crv. It looked something like this.

Non-artist's rendering

Now, I (obviously) love me some Fernet. But I also looooove all things mint. Peppermint, spearmint, whatevermint... it doesn't matter, I am in and can't get enough. I take Altoids three at a time. Last year for Christmas, the ladyfriend got me a five pound brick of Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark. This year, my stocking consisted of nothing but mint candies and those adorable wee lil Fernet bottles. True story.

Point is I'm a fan of mint, see.

My favorite way to induce massive stomach cramps

Given my proclivities, I naturally assumed that the Fernet + Mint combo in Branca Menta would be like washing my tongue in pure, uncut awesome. Um... not so. Rather than finding a way to pleasantly accentuate the naturally minty-esque flavor of Fernet Branca, it tastes like they just melted in some cheap green mint chip ice cream and called it a day. Whereas Fernet-Branca is a stark herbacious punch to the palate, Branca Menta is a sickly, filmy, vaguely creamy thing with none of the verve or panache of the original. And I hated it.

I was so disgusted by the stuff that had to pawn the bottle off on a friend who mixed it with some PBR as we watched college football.

Friend not pictured

Still, this stuff is obviously quite popular in Argentina or they wouldn't bother advertising it. Maybe it would go better with cola or lemon-lime soda, but the experience was so hugely disappointing that I figured the only way I'd ever try Branca Menta again would be if I did something monumentally stupid like start a dumb blog about the Branca company's primary product.

So obviously, I've got some work to do. Sigh.

Adorable wee lil Branca Menta bottle! Evil can be cute too.

*This is a lie. I do not have many readers.
Filed under: fernet adverts, Branca Menta is the devil, Those adorable wee lil fernet bottles, MSPaint Skillz, The Argentine Menace, no seriously it's the devil

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Faces of Fernet: Matt @ Pop's

What's that, Matt? You've never tried Fernet-Branca?

Fernetiquette victim du jour


You weren't quite expecting that, were you?

What'd you think?

[It seems that] the common reaction to a shot of Fernet is a cringe followed by a stuporous instant where bafflement overrides all preceding emotions.
Whatever you say, sailor.

Taken 12/14/09 @ Pop's. For the record, he did end up ordering another shot.

Filed under: Faces of Fernet, Fernet Foto File, People upon whom I've forced the stuff, Pop's is for winners,

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fernet On Tap in San Francisco?!? Surely you jest!

A good friend of mine breathlessly forwarded Thrillist's write-up this morning of Russian Hill bar Bullitt. Nestled amongst the generally positive tone of the review lay this tantalizing morsel of 100% pure awesome:

Bullitt's legitimately the only bar in town with Fernet... on tap...

That's right... on tap. Our traveling correspondent had privately whispered in my ear of such wonders in the Argentine barscape but I didn't actually believe that something so awesome as Fernet On Tap could exist in nature. Now that I know that Fernet On Tap is not only possible but proximate, I'm practically shaking in anticipation of experiencing it for myself.

My friend asked me if Bullitt (and Thrillist's) claim that they were in fact the only SF bar with Fernet on tap was true. My response was essentially: fuck if I know, but you can bet I'll find out. Soon.

So if anyone out there can claim to have seen or experienced Fernet On Tap within The City Limits, you are under strict orders to let me know immediately.

Filed under: Actual research-like substance, these are a few of my favorite things, OMG OMG OMG, Best McQueen Tribute Ever

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

All Your Updates to Various Things!

A catch-all update on All Things Fernetiquette.

-Ask the Internet and the Internet Responds. 
Last week, I exposed my massive ignorance by asking for help in translating an Argentine advert for Fernet-Branca. Advert in question goes here:
Naturally, lots of my friends speak the Spanish pretty good, though even they could not fully Unravel The Mystery of the Fernet Dog-Walking Advert. Most commenters bemoaned the lack of a bigger version of the image (sorry, no dice), but were able to piece together a rough translation:

The headline says something like "This is the last time I'm fetching it for you" but I'm not sure about the other text.

"The last time I take him out." (I don't have the phrasing quite smoothed out, but that's how I translate it.)
"One fewer discussion among (so) many discussions."
 ... says "The last time, I took it/him out" and underneath "One less discussion (out of so many)." But that still isn't very enlightening.

Indeed it is not. What is the connection between, "I took him out last time" and "One less discussion (among so many)"? Maybe the illegible small print would clarify? I'm not sure. It could be a cultural reference or idiom that we're not getting. Still, one brave commenter did advance a few plausible theories:

Fernet means never having to say, "Fine, I'll take the dog out AGAIN, fer chrissakes"?
I quite liked that one but was partial to

"I took the dog out last time, so you do it this time, cos it's high time I had me some Fernet"

Perfect. I'm going with that one.

-And speaking of Argentina...
Our traveling correspondent has returned stateside with just an overwhelming number of sexy Fernet pictures and tall Fernet tales. It will take me some time to wrassle them all into one narrative, but perhaps a small preview is in order.
Sorta romantic, don't you think?

-The same thing happened while trolling for dates to the Prom.
As of yet, my email to the purveyors of Bourbon and Branch has gone un-returned. I've also reached out to a few local and related-by-subject-matter blogs of note and gotten no response. In fact, the Fernetiquette Email Inbox remains entirely barren. le sigh.

But fear not, Gentle Reader! I shall soldier on, undeterred! So, if anyone out there can think of a blog or website I should reach out to, drop me a line and I'll gladly set myself up for future rejection!

Your Fernetiquette is all grownsed up! Now you can get to us by our old dot blogspot url AND our brand-shiny new digs at It's like twice the fun, but with exactly the same amount of website! Also, the twitterverse can now follow us on the twitter: @Fernetiquette.

Filed under: fernet adverts, The Argentine Menace, Updates, You're such a super lady I get so lonely, meta, pretty sure dogs don't drink booze

Monday, January 11, 2010

Places You Can Get Fernet: Minneapolis, MN

Ahhh, the Twin Cities. Nice place to visit. Honestly, it is. It's like a cleaner Chicago, with a downtown built like a hamster cage. Also: The Lakeside Club is a pretty good place for conversations with new acquaintances. Overall, I recommend the whole town*.

HOWEVA, I did spend this Christmas in Minneapolis, and in doing so visited four (4) different bars and found me some Fernet at exactly none (0) of them.  This wasn't too surprising but definitely counts as a strike against the Gopher State metropolis.

So I asked a friend who'd lived there for years if he'd knew where one could get some. Earlier this year, I'd introduced him to Fernet while he was visiting SF and here were his impressions:

My first reaction was that it tasted like minty bitters. I didn't really like it or hate. I could see how it could grow on me as a drink. I was apprehensive but drank it because my attorney advised it.

Smart lad, this one. He continues.

I have had it once since then. It isn't common around here, as you can guess.

The only place here in Minneapolis that I have ever seen it is at this restaraunt that just opened called il Gatto. They have straight up or they have it on their menu in a drop shot type of drink with Lemonata Pelligrino. They call it a Branca Bomb.


Il Gatto is in Uptown Minneapolis at the corner of Hennipin and Lake at Calhoun square. Uptown is where the cool kids hang out (it's like the Mission without the burrito joints.) Whatever middling reviews the food may get from customers, you have to give Il Gatto credit for honesty on their menu**. The ingredients to the Branca Bomb ($9) are listed as:
  • Fernet-Branca
  • San Pellegrino Limonata
  • courage
Fair play to them. So, my Minneapolitan friend, did you try a Branca Bomb?

Of course I tried it. It was interesting, I can tell you that.

Sometimes, that's all you can ask for.

*Or "towns", as it were.
**Not exactly delicate in their words or adornments, Il Gatto's "Happy Hour" menu is decorated with a clipart picture of a cat's butthole. You have been forewarned.
Filed under: Places you can get Fernet, Fernet cocktails, Minnesota, Prince orders his with extra courage, Goh Gohphers, Fernets and their migratory patterns

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Life is Pretty OK

Saturday night.

Taken @ The 500 Club on 1/9/10. Mmmm. The shot cost $6. The view was priceless.

Next week, we'll follow up on the Mystery Dog advert, as well as check in with our returning Argentine correspondent. We'll also look at some Fernet-friendly places from around the country. Stay tuned.

Filed Under: 500 Club, Fernet Foto File, Updates, these are a few of my favorite things, How much are you paying for your Fernet

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pay Your Respects, Imperial Subjects!

120 years ago today in front of Old St. Mary's Church on Grant and California, "[o]n the reeking pavement, in the darkness of a moon-less night under the dripping rain..., Norton I, by the grace of God, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, departed this life.".

Like Frank Chu multiplied by one thousand awesomes

Norton was on his way to lecture at the California Academy of Science the night he died. Have you ever been invited to lecture at the California Academy of Science? No. You haven't. And you probably aren't homeless and delusional. Norton was. How does that make you feel?

Hemlock = Bad. Fernet = Good.

During his life, he also dissolved the United States, abolished Congress, criminalized political parties, saved a group of immigrants from anti-Chinese rioters, ordered the construction of the Bay Bridge, advocated for abolition, established laws against people calling his fair city by detestable names, and got the SF board of supervisors to buy him new clothes even though he had repeatedly ordered their arrest. Norton had plays written for him and about him. Mark effing Twain wrote an epitaph for Norton's dog. Dude straight up invented his own currency... 

...and San Francisco shopkeepers actually accepted it. Kinda makes your life seem pretty pathetic, don't it? You should be nodding, because it really really does.

Oh, and he also rode fixies before they were cool. Suck on THAT, hipsters.

Probably on his way to Zeitgeist
In short, Emperor Norton won at life. And I don't mean he "won at life" in that lame internet way that people say when someone posts a gif of cute fuzzy panda bears going down slides. I mean he really, actually Won at Life. Period. The end.
So to commemorate his death, I toast to him. The Emperor, the Protector, the Man. May he live in our hearts forever.
Filed Under: San Francisco in general, Emperor Norton was better than you, lolhipsters, dubious historical comparisons, ginger backs go well with hemlock actually

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Musical Interlude: The Treniers - Say Hey

A better song about a baseball player you will not find.

Man, I hate the offseason. Can you tell?

Filed under: Posts about the Giants, Musical Interludes, The High Holy Church of Baseball

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fernetiquette asks The Internet for help

Continuing with our recent Argentine theme, I present to you this Fernet advert that for the life of me I cannot figure out.

Confession time: I don't speak Spanish. At all. I was stupid in high school and thought it would be a better idea to try my hand at Fran├žais. As you can imagine, this was a bad call. My rudimentary knowledge of sloppy high school French was moderately useful during the week I spent in Quebec 7 years ago but it has not exactly served me well during the ten years I have lived in and around the Mission. Nor does it help me figure out this here advertisement.

For what it's worth, the Babelfish translation of the headline is spectacularly unhelpful:
I to it complete time removes
You don't say.

I also ran it by a friend who said she spoke "Very, very awkward" Spanish and she had some theories, but I wanted to test them against The Theories of The Internet. A translation would be helpful, but any insight as to what Fernet has to do with walking your dog would be ideal. So... help? Please and thank you.

Filed under: Fernet adverts, a normal person might have taken a class or something by now, pretty sure dogs don't drink booze, Argentina loves them some Fernet

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fernet-Branca at Bourbon and Branch: The Eva Peron

Welcome to the Twenty-Teens, my friends! Did everyone use Fernet-Branca to wipe away your New Year's Day hangovers? I did, of course. Don't ask whether it worked because I don't remember.

Here at Fernetiquette, we also rang in 2010 by getting gussied-up and heading to the best little speakeasy in the city for a three hour session this Saturday night. I'd been to Bourbon and Branch a dozen or so times, so imagine my surprise when I perused the ever-shifting cocktail menu and my eyes lit upon this tall drink of water:

Don't keep your distance

Yes my friends, The Eva Peron. It appeared at the bottom of the last page of the Cocktails from Around The World section of the menu. The ingredients were listed as
  • Fernet-Branca
  • Carpano Antica (A sweet vermouth produced by the Branca distillery.)
  • Ginger liquor
  • Lime juice
  • Ginger beer
The menu noted that the Peron was an homage to Argentina and San Francisco's appreciation for Fernet. Naturally, I ordered it immediately. Unfortunately, due to the strict house rules I could not take a picture of the resulting concoction's presentation, but it was beautifully served in a collins glass over ice with a slice of lime. Approximately the color of whiskey and water, The Eva Peron was (like most everything at Bourbon and Branch) sublimely delicious.

Before I tasted it, I was a little wary of how much I would enjoy it as I'm not a huge fan of ginger flavors, but strangely the Fernet managed to be both front-and-center and quite subtle. I don't claim to have the most sophisticated palate for this sort of thing, but the lime and the effervescence from the ginger beer even seemed to help separate some of the floral and herbal notes from the Fernet. The overall effect was a complex, refreshing cocktail that had an earthy, almost wooden flavor... but in a good way.

Bottom line, I thought this was damned tasty. If they canned it and sold it in tall boys at corner stores, I'd buy a twelve-pack. Even one of my most staunchly Fernetphobic companions had this to say:
"It was interesting. I don't know if I would have finished the whole thing, but it was definitely not unpleasant."
 High praise!

I have put in an email to Bourbon and Branch to see if I can ask some questions about how they came up with the idea for The Eva Peron and see if I can get a better idea of the recipe. I'll report back if I hear anything in return.

Filed under: Fernet cocktails, It's not really that bad ya know, Bourbon and Branch, Drinks named after former heads of state, The Argentine Menace, actual research-like substance