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Dec 1, 2010 06:24 AM

Fernet on tap?

This week's SF Yelp newsletter is dedicated to all things Fernet such as the Fernet ice cream at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous.

They also mention that Bullitt on Polk has Fernet on tap.

At first I thought they were using "on tap" to mean that it was availble. However, a Google turned up that they do indeed have Fernet on tap.

While there are a lot of mentions that it is sold there, I'm not finding anything that says why or if it is superior to the bottle.

So, anyone tried the Fernet on tap at Bullitt or anywhere else?

Is it just a gimmick or better?

And I do realize we are talking Fernet, so 'better' might not be the best word. Different.

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  1. I've never had a shot of tap Fernet Branca so I can't speak specifically for this; but opinion-wise, I believe bottled will always be better due to air in the lines, bacteria content, etc. It's why I don't drink draught beer and prefer my soda in bottles.
    It sounds a little gimmicky. Can they really be selling enough to require a tap mechanism? I mean, Fernet's a digestif, not a drinkin' likker!

    6 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      >>> Can they really be selling enough to require a tap mechanism?


      I've read that 35% of the Fernet sold in the country is sold in SF.

      This blog devoted to Fernet has links to other uses for Fernet besides sipping.

      I'm liking the idea of Fernet with ginger ale. It just sounds right.

      1. re: rworange

        I do like the idea of Fernet and ginger, rworange. The idea of Fernet on tap, though, that people aren't using it for digestif properties is pretty clear...

        1. re: rworange

          Frenet with ginger back is a popular call. I once simply ordered a frenet with ginger, and got the two mixed together. Didn't try it. Ginger back is great.

        2. re: mamachef

          Skunky taps are a problem for beer because it has low alcohol content, can spoil, and because many bar owners just don't care. Fernet can sit indefinitely in an open bottle without spoiling, though it will lose some aromatics, but the high alcohol content protects it.

          Bullit and Tonic, the two bars with it on tap, have made a conscious decision to offer it, so I'm sure they're maintaining their taps and keeping them clean.

          I think I saw a cocktail at NoPa that incorporated Fernet, and the ginger ale/Fernet combination is classic.

          That said, the benefit to offering Fernet on tap is environmental: shipping lots of glass bottles is inefficient. There isn't any real flavor advantage, though one bartender claims the slight carbonation from the pressurized nitrogen improves it.

          1. re: SteveG

            Would anyone happen to know if the Fernet is actually shipped in bulk kegs? That would be a greener advantage over individual bottles. But this article describing the practice in Boston says that 18 bottles are emptied into a keg. Wonder how it works in SF.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I was wondering the same thing. Something about this paragraph in the SFGate article made me think they weren't actually getting it in kegs:

              "Mechanically, the liquor taps are virtually the same as for beer or, more accurately, wine. Liquor goes into a 5-gallon keg that's hooked up to a keg-and-tap system, and an inert gas, usually nitrogen, is used to push the liquor through under low pressure."

              Reza Esmaili is putting Carl Sutton's vermouth on tap at his bar, but Carl Sutton is one of the kegged wine evangelists who ship in kegs so there is actually a clear environmental benefit to what he's doing.

        3. Bullitt
          2209 Polk St
          If their menu page is correct then a digestif is probably necessary for the fried Ho-Hos.

          2209 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          2 Replies
          1. re: wolfe

            I had a battered fried Snickers once, and it was everything evil and good at once. Would definitely require a shot of Fernet after those Ho-ho's though.

            1. re: wolfe

              Where are you finding their website? I'm sorry, but I'm sick today and I guess my search skills are lacking. This is a very amusing, but I really want to know if there's a difference of tap or bottle. Do they have anything about the reason for it on their website?

              Maybe I should post this question on the General Topics board, but I figured that there can't be a lot of places that sell Fernet on tap and maybe someone in SF tried it.

            2. There was an article in this week's Chronicle Food Section about bars putting Fernet on tap (including why) Spoiler alert: the answer is "Why not?"

              4 Replies
              1. re: JasmineG

                Hey, thanks. I guess I wasn't the only one who wondered why. Well, if it is just marketing, it seems silly and pretentious.

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    OK, I rarely just post to add something like (g), but that had me chuckling. Actually I was just thinking there aren't many cities where Fernet is considered so cool that it is on tap.

                    THanks to all. I knew I could count on Chowhounds for an answer. .

                1. re: JasmineG

                  Well, it reminds me of the practice of serving vermouth from a tap, widespread in Spain. I'd be shocked if it doesn't come in some keg or bag, as it's often one of the cheapst things you can get, 1.50-2.50 euro per glass. I love the stuff, personally. Compared to Fernet, there is substantial residual acidity, which I thou i balances it out nicely.

                2. I find Fernet, and most medicinal spirits, pretty revolting. Imagine how shocked I was to enjoy Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous's Fernet ice cream. The temperature and fat of the ice cream temper the overpowering aspects of the Fernet, while at the same time benefiting from its complex flavors. Along those lines, herbs and spices tend to overpower ice cream bases, making them taste like frozen sauces rather than something that belongs on a sugary cone. It's awesome that MMM are able to use booze to effectively marry herbs and spices with ice cream.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hyperbowler

                    Fernet. Gross. On tap at Acme Bar in Berkeley.

                  2. Rebel bar on Market at Octavia has not only Fernet on tap, but Jameson whiskey as well.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: Amandica

                        And Bullitt has Maker's Mark on tap as well.