Monday, June 14, 2010

try this, you'll hate it

That's what a friend said to me my first night in mendoza, handing me a fernet con coca. he was right - it was awful.

The SF Weekly, reporting on its popularity with hipsters, had it right.

When you hold a shot glass of Fernet-Branca to your nose, the first thing that strikes you is the physicality of the smell, which, if such a thing existed, is like black licorice-flavored Listerine. Put it to your lips and tip it back, and the assault on the throat and sinuses is aggressively medicinal. For many so-called "Fergins" uninitiated to the drink, it can be accompanied by a feeling that may either bring a tear to the eye or lunch to the esophagus. As a bitter Italian aperitif of more than 40 herbs and spices, it most often gets compared to Campari and J├Ągermeister, though by measure of accuracy, it's equally similar to Robitussin or Pennzoil.

6 weeks later, I have a bottle in my fridge. Wiki says:

Highly popular in Argentina, it is often taken as a national beverage. The production in this country is around 20 million litres, 35% sold in Buenos Aires province and Federal District and 30% in C├│rdoba province (with a population of 3 million people). Although originally fernet was mainly served with water or soda, now (since late eighties) the most common preparation is with Coca-Cola: A tall glass with several ice cubes is filled about 1/10 full with Fernet and then Coke is slowly added.

And it's true. They drink it a lot here. And, I suppose, now, so do I. You want to order it, "para preparar," that is, a tall glass filled near the top with fernet and ice, another glass with only ice, and a bottle of coke (if you're lucky it's a glass bottle of real coke).

And because of the exchange rate, you can buy a lot of it, cheap!


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