If you’re not patient, the song starts about a minute in, when DJ Pause gets a text in his studio from Doc Fu that says only, “FERNET!” Part of the song educates the uninitiated: “For the players, it tastes a little bit like Jäger, but smoother.” My favorite line is “make your breath smell good/I don’t need no Binaca.” You can’t pay for this sort of publicity — it’s amazing.
I’m a fan of Fernet Branca, but not a huge one. That flavor, which has been compared to “getting punched squarely in the nose while sucking on a mentholated cough drop,” is an acquired taste. But it really isn’t that unpalatable; that assertion better describes the Chicago obsession, Jeppson’s Malört.
My first bottle of Fernet Branca was purchased in a St. Paul, Minnesota liquor store in an attempt to find the Stock Fernet I drank in Prague. On my first sip, Fernet Branca clearly wasn’t the same: it was bitter rather than sweet, and it had a minty edge to it.
But one of the best new cocktails I’ve had this year calls for Fernet Branca. The Prizefighter Smash, which may still be on the current menu at Clover Club in Brooklyn, is Carpano Antica, Fernet Branca, simple syrup, lemon juice, and mint. The Carpano (bitter vanilla) and the Fernet (bitter mint) seem to balance each other out, and with the addition of a sweetener and a sour, it’s refreshing and complex. It’s the best reason I know of to buy a bottle.