Fernet and Folk
My first taste of Fernet was down in Argentina, somewhere in the Uco Valley. The dirt roads had packs of dogs who managed on diets of fallen grapes. We had a butcher where you could buy a 10 pound bag of steak for 20 bucks. There was a dusty bar with a few plastic chairs and foosball table on the sidewalk that sold 22oz Quilmes for less than a dollar. A few people sold empanadas. A few people sold U.S. Dollars. The main “general store” doubled as someone’s house that held general hours, you could always ring the doorbell if you happened to miss them. They had precious things like bread, dulce de leche, and beer. The recently paid would look behind the counter and up to the top shelf where the Fernet Branca was sitting. One of the locals told me that a proper night consisted of a full 750ml bottle of Fernet, 2 liters coke and a trip to the boliche (dance club). It seemed like a lot of liquid for a single person to be consuming in a night but I suppose the total amount of steps on the dance floor and walks to the bathroom were enough to balance it all out. If you were on a budget, they sold a premixed fernet & coke in a 500ml plastic bottle for about dollar. I remember not liking the proportion of coke, it had overwhelmed the fernet. My preferred method of Fernet ingestion was served in a highball glass over ice with a glass bottle of South American coke on the side. You could then add your perfect proportions according to taste, depending on time and temperature relative to how fast your ice melted. My first experience with it was on a night that I hadn’t felt my finest. Someone recommended the Fernet and Coke to fix my stomach. I had a hard time drinking the first one; the minty bitterness mixed with the sweet coke was like a punch in mouth. I was told nobody ever likes their first Fernet & Coke. I ordered another that night and continue to order them today.