Why Drink Fernet When You Can Drink Something That Actually Tastes Good?

At the risk of alienating everyone who foolishly links civic pride to drinking mouth wash marketed as drinkable alcohol, I'm going to go out on a real limb here and say Fernet isn't that good.  That's not to say it doesn't have its place in the world: a shot with friends when revelling the fact human bodies have adapted to tolerate such acute horror, a gargle before a big date, or perhaps a drink while trying to fit in are all perfectly acceptable justification for ordering the drink.  Otherwise Fernet is just straight-up gnarly byproduct of the lemming-like drinking machismo that plaques our city.

But now there's an alternative beverage to please our made-up herbal liquor palates and it's called Becherovka.

What's Becherovka, you ask? My friend who spent some time in the Eastern European country from which it came described it as “what Fernet would taste like if Fernet was supposed to taste good.”  A more reputable food/mixologist blog describes it in less comparative ways:

[The] liqueur comes with a 200-year-old pedigree. Its secret recipe, a blend of over 20 botanicals, was first formulated by a Czech apothecary and a British-born doctor way back in 1807 in a quest to create a healthful “elixir of life.”

As is the case with most herbal liqueurs, Becherovka's not for all tastes. But if you like your drinks bittersweet, complex, and a little spicy, you'll want to give this cinnamon, clove, and ginger-accented liqueur a try. Weighing in at 38 percent alcohol by volume, it's traditionally sipped neat straight from the fridge or freezer and makes a bracing accompaniment to hot coffee or cold beer.

Sounds familiar, right?  The key difference here is taste, and by taste I mean Becherovka didn't make me gag and privately regret ordering it.

Now, I realize some of you out there will dismiss this endorsement of Becherovka as me trying to stay “hip” and “relevant” and “trendy” or whatever, but I assure you that in a blind taste test, the only person that'll pick Fernet is the guy who cuts himself in a bathtub full of salt water for shits n' giggles.

From what I can tell, the manufacturer only recently started importing this stuff to San Francisco, so it's still relevatively hard to track down. But should you want to give it a taste, it's available now at Bender's, sitting above a pair of testicles behind the bar.

Comments (12)

You should try Averna as well. It’s a sweeter version of fernet.

Try it with apple juice. Amazing.

I tried some years ago when a friend brought it back from the Czech Republic. Very tasty!

Better still: you can get it at BevMo, KevMo. It ain’t that hard to find.

Fernet started out as a thing that industry people would take a drink out of since no one ordered it. How and why it became such a big thing SF is now the #1 city buying Fernet Branca in the US is beyond me.

You can also get different ones besides Branca.

Bet it goes great with tater tots or mac and cheese…

I drink fernet because it is fucking magic for any kind of an upset stomach. I don’t understand it, and I can’t explain it, but all I know is that anytime I’ve got any sort of indigestion or tummy upset, a kick of fernet fixes it all within about 10 minutes.

I drink fernet because it is fucking magic for any kind of an upset stomach.
And an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, that’s why I drink fernet pretty much daily. Not to excess, mind you (cuz that’s when Uncle Beej can’t remember how he got home). But, a shot (or 2) a day keeps everything in good working order. AND it gets you buzzed. What more could one ask?

What is Fernet from Alcademics.com.

My first exposure to Fernet was when I worked at a Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant a hundred years ago, and it was recommended to me as the cure for an upset stomach. I can’t remember if it worked or not, I just remember that the taste was gaggy.

But then, I feel the same way about Jaeger (which is essentially cough medicine). Never touch the nasty stuff.

As for Becherovka, I was in the Czech Republic last November, and I can’t remember ever having any. That’s not to say I didn’t, I just don’t remember…

I lived in Prague for a couple months and I assure you people drink it there. It’s delicious and I’m happy to find it in bars here now. The real nasty shit is the Hungarian liqueur called Unicum, or here in the US because that name is apparently unacceptable, Zwack. Find it and tell me how bad it is in comparison to Fernet Branca. However nothing is as bad as Chicago’s very own liqueur by the name of Malort. It has a hilarious Wikipedia page if you’d like to know more. It’s just about as bad as it gets. Underberg is pretty bad. I know kids who shoot chartreuse and that’s not too bad. I think the next herbal liqueur all the kids rave about will be Galliano, if they ever released it with a less sweet, higher alcohol content. Fuck drambuie.

They drink a lot of Fernet in Buenos Aires too – and there they mix it with cola. Try it – it’s actually good!!

I’ve always found Fernet to be the perfect morning-after drink. I couldn’t see drinking it at night.

Fernet may be more of an acquired taste, not as easy to like as Becherovka, but I have acquired it, think I prefer Fernet more now. Will have to try Averna…