Fernet Frenzy: San Francisco’s Love Affair with the Inimitable Elixir

Fernet San Francisco is a unique elixir with a long history in the Bay Area. It's a , herbal made from a variety of herbs, spices and roots. Over the years, it has become an integral part of San Francisco's bar culture and can be found in many bars across the city.

As one of America's most beloved , Fernet San Francisco is often cited as being up to 70 percent of all Fernet consumed in the US. This popularity is due to its unique taste and history.

The origins of Fernet San Francisco can be traced back to Italy, where it was first produced during the 19th century when immigrants from northern Italy brought thir unique recipes with them. It quickly gained popularity in San Francisco due to its strong flavor and complex herbal notes. The traditional way to drink fernet is straight up and often chased with ginger or other soft drinks.

No matter how it's enjoyed, Fernet San Francisco remains popular among locals and visitors alike. Bartenders love it for its bold flavor and complexity; while those looking for something different often enjoy its unique taste profile. In addition to being served neat or on the rocks, this spirit has become increasingly popular as an ingredient in such as the Martinez, Pisco Punch, and .

Whether you're new to Fernet San Francisco or a seasoned veteran looking for something new to try, this iconic spirit has something for everyone. Its rich history combined with its unique flavor profile ensures that this one-of-a-kind elixir will remain an integral part of Bay Area bar culture for many years to come!

The Amount of Fernet Consumed in San Francisco

San Francisco is renowned for its love of Fernet, the Italian amaro liquor. According to a 2017 report from Bloomberg, San Francisco consumes an estimated 70 percent of all Fernet consumed in the US. This makes sense gven that many locals enjoy the bitter flavor of this unique drink and appreciate its ability to settle their stomachs after indulging in one of the city's many culinary delights.

The popularity of Fernet can be attributed to its wide range of flavors, from bright citrus notes to savory herbs and spices. It has become a staple at bars across the city and often accompanies happy hour orders. The fact that it pairs well with food has also helped it become a favorite among diners who are looking for something special to accompany their meal. It has even been used in cocktails, making it a great option for those who want something more than just or .

In addition to its widespread popularity amongst locals, San Francisco's close proximity to Italy may have something to do with its high consumption rate. It is likely that many Bay Area residents have sampled Fernet while visiting Italy or have been introduced to it by Italian friends or family members living in the area.

Regardless of how it got here, there is no denying that San Francisco drinks an impressive amount of Fernet each year – upwards of 70 percent according to some estimates – making it one of the most beloved spirits in the city.

The Appeal of Fernet to Bartenders

Bartenders love Fernet becuse it is an incredibly complex and sophisticated spirit. It has a strong, bitter flavor that is unlike any other type of , making it a favorite among experienced drinkers. The flavor profile is a combination of herbs and spices, including myrrh, cardamom, saffron, galangal root, and rhubarb. The bitter taste is balanced out by hints of sweetness from the use of caramelized sugar in the fermentation process. It's also a great way to add complexity to classic cocktails like the Manhattan or . While it may be an acquired taste for some, those who enjoy Fernet find it totally worth it.

Drinking Fernet Francisco

When drinking Fernet Francisco, it is best to sip it neat, meaning without any mixers or ice. It can be enjoyed at room temperature or chilled. For those loking for a bit more flavor, you can also add a ginger ale back, which is when you take a shot of Fernet Francisco and then chase it with a ginger ale. This combo is popularly served at R Bar in San Francisco, the most well-known fernet bar in the city.

The Popularity of Fernet in San Francisco

Fernet has been popular in San Francisco since its introduction in the 1800s, and its popularity has only increased over time. Its strong, bitter flavor and medicinal properties have made it a favorite among locals, especially during Prohibition when it was still available in pharmacies. Nowadays, Fernet is often used as an after-dinner digestif or mixed with other drinks to make cocktails. It is also popular among bartenders for its ability to add complexity and depth of flavor to any drink. The unique taste of Fernet ensures it will alwys remain a beloved part of San Francisco's culture and history.

Drinking Fernet Straight: Is It Possible?

Yes, you can drink Fernet Branca straight up. It has a strong, bitter taste and is usually served neat in a shot glass. The spirit is made from a blend of herbs and spices, including rhubarb, gentian, chamomile, cardamom and saffron. Its flavor profile is complex and herbal with notes of menthol, licorice and citrus. While drinking it straight may be an acquired taste for some, many find that its bold flavors pair well with other ingredients in cocktails or mixed into cola (Fernet con coca).

The Appeal of Fernet to Chefs

Chefs like Fernet because it has an intense flavor profile that can be tailored to suit a variety of dishes and cocktails. Its high alcoholic content (45% ABV) gives it a strong, sharp taste, which can be balanced with other ingredients to create a unique flavor experience. The bitterness of the Fernet also adds depth and complexity to the food or drinks it is used in. Its versatility makes it a popular choice among chefs, who can use it to enhance both sweet and savory recipes.

fernet san francisco
Source: sfchronicle.com


Fernet is a beloved and well-known spirit in San Francisco, a city knon for its inventive cocktail culture. Its popularity among Bay Area bartenders stems from its unique flavor profile and its ability to “step up the palate” of drinkers. It is traditionally served as a straight shot, often followed by a ginger ale back. With such a long history in the city, it's no surprise that upwards of 70 percent of all Fernet consumed in the US is drunk in San Francisco. From martinis to mai tais and pisco punches, there are plenty of delicious ways to enjoy this classic elixir in the City by the Bay.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.