San Franciscans like to drink Fernet as though it’s their job, and due to the high rate of unemployment in California, for some of them it actually is.

A quick Google search of Fernet will reveal that it is a type of Italian bitter typically served as a digestif after a meal. According to Wikipedia, it is also the national beverage of Argentina, and in a San Franciscan’s mind anytime you mix South America with Europe you get something that is totally street.

During the daytime you will often hear a San Franciscan say something like, “I’m not drinking Fernet anymore,” but invariably as soon as it gets dark they’re standing at the bar saying, “Shot of Fernet with a ginger back,” and you might be confused at this sudden change of heart, but just remember that for San Franciscans it’s practically a lifestyle to deny in the darkness what they have seen in the light, which is one reason that San Franciscans so often wake up next to strangers.

Fernet love stories are like the Aesop’s Fables of San Francisco. For example: One time a couple was bickering in a bar. What they were arguing about is irrelevant, suffice it to say it looked like the fight would never end. Finally, one of them looked the other straight in the eye and said, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you Fernet,” and their jaws dropped like they had just heard that the SF Weekly had made up with The Guardian. It was clear that the fight was over, and they would be together for a long time, because every San Franciscan knows that Fernet means never having to say you’re sorry.

San Franciscans like to travel, and will often try to order Fernet at bars in places like Eugene Oregon. San Franciscans aren’t idiots, they know as well as anyone that people in Oregon only drink microbrews, but they use this as a way to test the bartender.

If the bartender stares blankly and offers them Jager he/she has failed, but if the bartender looks at the San Franciscan with a wry smile and says, “You must be from San Francisco,” then that bartender has totally passed, and is going to get a personal invitation to stay with this San Franciscan the next time he/she travels south. In other words ordering a shot of Fernet is like having a tattoo that says, “Can’t touch this. Or can you?”

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