A bitter beverage beloved in Argentina as a hangover cure is slowly and steadily gaining in popularity in the U.S., and with good reason.
In Argentina, fernet is the liquor for all occasions. Grandparents swear by the herbal libation; the young heading out into the night mix fernet with cola and then order it en masse at bars and clubs; and no one would dare organize a barbecue, which are called asados in Argentina and are very regular affairs with friends or families, without fernet. It even earned a theme song in the '90s: "Fernet con cola," about the bona fide national beverage by Argentine rock band Vilma Palma e Vampiros.
Argentina downs more fernet than any other country, though the bitter originated in Italy, a country where more than half of Argentines claim ancestry, way back in the mid-1800s. As universally popular as fernet is in Argentina, it is still relatively unknown in the United States. It pops up here and there; Bill Cosby mentioned the liquor in a bit he performed and it has appeared in The Sopranos scenes. In recent years in the U.S. people have been talking about and tasting the liquor more, especially out west in San Francisco, and the beverage's popularity, or at least awareness for it, has grown steadily. Fernet enjoys a storied past in San Francisco, too. During Prohibition, San Franciscans could legally imbibe fernet. It was permitted on the grounds that it was "medicinal."