Italian Immigrants Help Fernet Thrive in San Francisco

Amy Cavanaugh

A few months ago, I was sitting on a barstool at Smuggler’s Cove, a San Francisco tiki bar, when a group of people next to me started talking about fernet.

“It’s a bartender’s drink,” said one. “Everyone’s drinking fernet.”

They are—it’s impossible to spend time in San Francisco without seeing how huge a role fernet, the bitter Italian liqueur with a strong minty flavor, has on the city’s drinking...