Figuring Out Fernet.

If you've ever wished that Jagermeister could have the sugar taken out of it, been mixed with mouthwash, had a peppermint dissolved in it, and be combined with the effervescence of prescription strength codeine syrup, boy do I have a liqueur for you.

Fernet is a complicated and potent bitter made from an exhausting list of fermented ingredients that sound like they were chosen by some one already drunk on it. Ingredients rumored to be in fernet include codeine, mushrooms, fermented beets, coca leaf, gentian, wormwood, zedoary, cinchona, bay leaves, absinthe, orange peel, calumba, echinacea, quinine, ginseng, St. John's wort, sage, and peppermint oil — but myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, and aloe are the most common and proved set of recurring elements.

So, basically, it's the perfect thing to order to scare your friends.

And who knew you could even drink myyrh?

Any decent bar usually carries a sole bottle of fernet. It's pointless asking for a specific brand because it's usually the most unused aromatic in the state of Texas. At The Foundry Bar in West Dallas, they use the most common Italian brand, Fernet Branca.

San Francisco is the most popular place in America for the European liqueur, and accounts for nearly 25 percent of all U.S. sales. Fernet caught on there pre-Prohibition, and remained popular after. The only other country with a significant love for the drink is Argentina, where it's popularly mixed with Coke. PGA Golfer and Masters Winner Angel Cabrera calls it his favorite drink, but I suspect that's probably more to do with his Argentinian roots and not a true love for how it tastes.

Fact is, no one could love a drink like this. Fernet is designed to be a digestif, which to us uneducated Americans means it's liquor you're supposed to drink at the end of the meal to aid in digestion. By that logic, you shouldn't order fernet anywhere near the beginning of the night. Save it until your curiosity catches up to your disposition.

I'm not saying you'll love it whatsoever. But I promise you'll find it interesting, to say the least. If not, it's a great way to judge a bartender's IQ.

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