Why Is Fernet The Bartenders Handshake?

If you’ve ever worked behind a bar or have had the pleasure of watching a bartender work their magic, you may have noticed that after a shift or before one, a particular drink seems to be exchanged with a sense of camaraderie and respect. That drink is none other than Fernet, a bitter, herb-based liqueur that has become a staple in the bartending community. Fernet has gained a reputation as the “bartender’s handshake” and has become a symbol of the industry in recent years. So, why is Fernet the chosen spirit amongst bartenders worldwide?

In this article, we will dive into the history of Fernet and how it became a popular beverage amongst bartenders. We will also explore the unique taste of Fernet and why it has become a cult favorite amongst those in the industry. From its medicinal origins to its cult status today, we’ll explore the reasons behind why Fernet has become the liquid handshake that brings together a community of professionals who share a passion for craft cocktails and the service industry. Let’s raise a glass and take a deeper look at the fascinating world of Fernet.

Quick Summary
Fernet is an herbal liquor that has a strong and unique taste, which can be an acquired taste for some. Bartenders often bond over their love for Fernet and offer it as a handshake to other bartenders as a sign of solidarity and camaraderie. Additionally, Fernet has been used as a cure for indigestion and hangovers, making it a go-to choice for bartenders after a long shift.

The History of Fernet and Bartending Culture

Fernet is a bitter, herbal liqueur that has long been an iconic and beloved staple of bartending culture. Its roots can be traced back to the early 19th century when it was first invented by a Milanese family of herbalists. At the time, Fernet was primarily used as a stomach medication. However, it quickly gained popularity as a digestif and soon became a fixture in bars throughout Italy and beyond.

In the early 20th century, Fernet arrived in Argentina, where it was embraced by bartenders and quickly became a symbol of their profession. In fact, it’s said that in many bars across the country, the first drink of the day is often a shot of Fernet. Over time, Fernet has become known as the bartender’s handshake – a sign of respect and camaraderie among those who work behind the bar. Today, Fernet remains an integral part of bartending culture and is enjoyed by millions of people around the world.

The Ingredients and Flavor Profile of Fernet

Fernet is a bitter and aromatic spirit, with a complex flavor profile made up of over 40 herbs and spices. Among these, the most prominent include myrrh, saffron, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, rhubarb, gentian, and cinnamon. The mixture is then aged in oak barrels to create a unique and well-rounded taste.

Despite the bitter and herbal nature of Fernet, it does have a slight sweetness to it. Its flavor is multi-layered and complex, with a long-lasting finish. It is often compared to the flavors of liquorice, mint, and menthol. Some people describe it as tasting similar to cough syrup, but in the best possible way. Whether you enjoy it neat or mixed into a cocktail, the flavor profile of Fernet is like no other spirit out there.

Fernet’s Versatility in Crafting Cocktails

Fernet is a versatile liquor in making cocktails. Its bold flavor profile can enhance the taste of various drinks, making it a go-to ingredient for bartenders. Adding Fernet to a drink can give it an herbal hint, a touch of bitterness, and a mellow aftertaste. Bartenders can use Fernet to spruce up classic drinks like whiskey, gin, or rum. This liquor is also an excellent choice for complex cocktails wherein it can blend well with other ingredients.

Bartenders also use Fernet as a fragrant modifier, balancing out the bold flavors of other spirits and sweeteners. Fernet Branca is a popular variant of this liquor, and it is used in numerous cocktails worldwide, including the Buenos Aires classic, Fernet con Coca (Fernet with Coca-Cola). Fernet’s versatility in cocktails is what makes it a must-have for bartenders across the globe. Whether you like classic cocktails or prefer to experiment with new recipes, Fernet is a liquor that can add depth and complexity to your concoctions.

The Relationship Between Bartenders and Fernet

The relationship between bartenders and Fernet is a long-standing one that has been solidified over time. Bartenders are known to love Fernet, and the liquor has become an essential part of the bartending industry.

Fernet is an herbal liqueur that is known for its bitter taste. It is commonly used as a digestif, and bartenders often offer it to customers at the end of a meal. The popularity of Fernet among bartenders is due to its versatility and the fact that it pairs well with a variety of drinks. Bartenders also appreciate the complexity of Fernet, which allows them to create unique and interesting cocktails. Moreover, Fernet is also considered a bit of a “bartender’s handshake,” in which bartenders offer a shot to each other as a sign of camaraderie and respect.

Fernet’s Cult Following in the Bar Industry

Fernet has developed a cult following in the bar industry. The herbal liqueur’s unique taste and strong flavors have earned it a reputation as a bartender’s drink. It is common for bartenders to cement their friendship by sharing a shot of Fernet, often referred to as “the bartender’s handshake.”

Fernet’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, with much of its fame attributed to San Francisco bartenders who introduced the drink to the city’s cocktail scene in the early 1990s. Today, the drink is a staple in many bars across the United States and beyond, with bartenders often incorporating it into creative cocktails or serving it as a digestif. Its popularity among bartenders is not lost on industry giants, with Fernet often used as a marker for trendiness in the industry.

How Fernet Represents Bartenders as a Community

Fernet has become more than just a drink for bartenders; it represents a sense of camaraderie and community within the industry. Bartenders often share a shot of Fernet as a way to bond and show respect for each other. This tradition has become known as “The Bartender’s Handshake.” It’s a way to connect with other industry professionals, share tips and tricks, and celebrate the craft of bartending.

Fernet’s popularity in the bartending world can be attributed to its complex and bitter taste, which reflects the complexities and challenges of the job. Bartenders appreciate the medicinal properties of Fernet, such as settling an upset stomach or easing a hangover. But it’s also become a ritual and a symbol of pride among bartenders, signifying their hard work, skill, and dedication to their craft. Sharing a shot of Fernet has become a way to connect and honor the traditions of the industry, making it a beloved and meaningful tradition for bartenders around the world.

Future Trends for Fernet as a Bartender Staple.

Fernet has established itself as a staple drink in many bars across the globe. Bartenders love it not only for its unique taste but also for its versatility. Its bitter yet spicy flavor has made it a go-to ingredient in many classic cocktails. But what does the future hold for Fernet as a bartender staple?

The future looks bright for Fernet, with many bartenders experimenting with new ways to use it. There is an increasing demand for innovative and unusual cocktails, and Fernet provides the perfect ingredient to accommodate that. With the rise of the craft cocktail movement and the popularity of traditional apéritifs, Fernet is well positioned to continue to grow in popularity. It may even become a staple in more mainstream bars as cocktail enthusiasts continue seeking out new and exciting flavors. The future for Fernet in the cocktail industry looks exciting and promising.

Final Verdict

Fernet is a unique and complex spirit that has become a staple in the bartender community. Its intense flavor profile and bitter finish make it a versatile ingredient for cocktails, as well as a popular digestif. The tradition of bartenders sharing a shot of Fernet as a sign of camaraderie and respect shows the strong sense of community within the industry.

While Fernet may not be for everyone, it is an increasingly popular spirit that has been able to maintain its niche appeal. Its popularity among the bartender community and its versatility in cocktails has caused it to gain a cult following and continue to rise in popularity. So the next time you’re at a bar and see a bottle of Fernet on the shelf, consider giving it a try and see what all the fuss is about.

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