Fernet is San Francisco's ultimate meme. Most move here having never heard of it, only to have a newfound friend order them a shot and watch their face curdle upon impact. And yet, miraculously, most snarl "I like it!" after swallowing their revulsion and go on to order it again and again.
It's a beautifully foul tradition, really.
But like most memes, it has to keep developing or risk losing the interest of its most flighty fans. So, following on the imported success of Mexican Coke, some San Franciscans are now importing Mexican Fernet for those of you bored of the commonalty of Fernet-Branca.
CHOW's John Birdsall has the marketing material-ready backstory on Fernet-Vallet, discovered in some edgy Guadalajara taverna "where tourists rarely go" and conveniently imported to the safe confines of your favorite mixologist hang-out:
Epic saga short, [Jake Lustig of Haas Brothers importers] eventually persuaded the Vallet family to allow him to import Fernet-Vallet, along with their angostura bitters. The Vallets have distilled Fernet since the 1860s, when Napoleon III was trying to make Mexico a protectorate of France’s colonial empire. Fernet-Vallet arrived here last summer, and it’s started to percolate up through cocktail bars in New York. It’s caught the attention of a subset of LA mixologists, guys, Lustig says, "interested in developing Latin cocktails beyond the margarita and the daiquiri.” I noticed Mexican Fernet a couple weeks ago on the menu of little Nido in Oakland, California, where it’s set up as a shot with a beer.
Of course, it's more than mixologist droolings. As Birdsall notes, "Vallet is smoother than Branca, lacks the latter’s blast of peppermint oil and breathes baking spice, though it's just as antiseptically bitter." And we're sure that smoothness will be welcome relief to the many left reeling in shock by the taste of Branca, although this blogger has always found the accompanying jolt of consciousness that Fernet provides after a hard night of alcohol guzzling to be a pleasing side-effect.
Anyway, if Mexican Fernet is found in the Mission (or elsewhere in San Francisco, I guess), do let us know. We're eager to shove some in our faces.