Monday, April 12, 2010

The Official Rules of Fernet Etiquette, v. 1.0

It's funny. I never really started this blog with the idea of serving as some sort of Fernet authority. In fact, I explicitly disavowed any such notion in the FAQs. I started this blog because the name popped into my head one day after a terribly long night at Pop's and I thought "Huh huh. That'd be a good name for a blog or something."

And off we went.
Reposting because it's still my favorite

Then I got going a bit. And then I garnered a few readers. Then one day out of the clear blue sky, someone determined that this blog was about "Fernet Etiquette". Which: OK. I guess that makes sense. I may not be a bartender or a mixologist or someone with any specialized knowledge on the subject whatsoever... but I am a San Franciscan who drinks Fernet. Seeing as how San Francisco drinks somewhere between 35-50% of the Fernet in the United States AND I'm the only person within San Francisco to start a blog about it, I think the issue is settled: I am an authority on Fernet etiquette. Res ipsa loquitur.

I should note that while I did not ask for this responsibility, I shall not shrink from it. Thus, Allow me to present Fernetiquette's Official Rules of Fernet Etiquette, v 1.0. (A work in progress.):
  1. If you've never tried Fernet, you must seek it out immediately. I mean it. Look, whether you like it or you think it could peel the paint off the walls, Fernet is distinctive enough that it absolutely has to be sampled. Nay, not sampled: savored. Contemplated. Experienced. You must try it or you are not a complete person. Yes, Fernet is that powerful. Get to it.
  2. Don't think about it. Don't smell it. Don't hesitate. Just drink it. Whether you decide to shoot it or sip it, just dive right in. I will warn you: You will hate it the first time it touches your lips. That said, as soon as that warm clean menthol feeling hits your gut, you'll start to understand what is the big deal about Fernet. But I assure you my friend, it will be just a start.
  3. Ginger backs are acceptable, but not necessarily encouraged. The Infamous SF Weekly Fernet Article declares Fernet with Ginger to be "the style of drinking Fernet-Branca that is most popular in San Francisco." Whatever. If that's what it takes for you to handle the stuff, fine. I can't say I didn't need something to clear my palate after the first time I tried Fernet. HOWEVA... after a few months of practice, feel free to remove the training wheels. Put on your big boy pants and graduate to beer. Or hell, vodka.
  4. If you meet someone who hasn't tried it, you are obligated to buy them a shot. This is non-negotiable. Iron-clad. 
  5. If you are in somewhere outside of San Francisco and you see Fernet behind the bar, you are mandated to order it under penalty of law. Also non-negotiable. As a corollary: if the bartender then asks you if you are from San Francisco, you are obligated to tip like a Rockefeller and buy them a shot of their own.
  6. San Franciscans may not drink Fernet and cola in public within the city limits. Why? Because it's just not how we do things here and everyone else will point and laugh. In fact, unless you work for Bourbon and Branch or you're going to stir it in directly with your Pabst, you should probably just leave Fernet cocktails to the auslanders. Now, if you're barricaded inside the relative privacy of your own $1850/month-250-square-foot junior bedroom suite in the Excelsior and you decide to indulge in the forbidden pleasure of a Fernet con Coca, so be it. Just be sure the blinds are securely closed. Dear God, no one else wants to see that shit.
  7. The artificial "You are not supposed to drink alcohol until X time of day" rules do not apply to Fernet. Fernet is not just a delicious spirit. No my friends. It's also a hangover cure. It's also a fantastic digestif. In short: it's a miracle drink. Therefore it is appropriate for consumption twenty-four hours a day. If anyone looks askance at you, refer them to me. Besides, it's always noon somewhere.

Any other suggestions to add to the Official Rules? Post them in the comments.

So it is written, and so it shall be.
Filed Under: THE RULES AS I DECLARE THEM TO BE, San Francisco in general, The Infamous SF Weekly Fernet Article, I come from a long line of functional alcoholics, Fernet and Cola, Pop's is for winners, meta


  1. i wonder what the chances of any bars in Detroit having Fernet are? i guess i will have to investigate :)

  2. this article is AWESOME.
    i drank fernet in brazil. it was green and warm. we were playing poker. it was still light out, sun just escaping. it was a beautiful memory.

  3. Lisa!

    I know they serve Fernet at Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor. Or at least they did a few years ago. If you find anywhere else in or near the D that has it, let me know.

    And Anonymous: Yes, that sounds lovely.

  4. I'm very excited to try my first Fernet this coming weekend, and that it will be happening in San Francisco. Why? Because I'm just that way. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm dragging friends with me.

  5. "Don't think about it. Don't smell it. Don't hesitate. Just drink it."

    Good advice for the uninitiated. However, I always take a draw to capture the nose, and depending on my mood, I either shoot it or sip it. I generally shoot it to be polite (don't want to seem unappreciative if a round is bought for the group), but otherwise, I like savoring it.

  6. If you or your friends do manage to take a tipple and take a photo why not post them on --- It's a fun new way of gauging your friends reactions --- Fernet is for Lovers!