The Bitter Elixer: Why Do Bartenders Drink Fernet?

why do bartenders drink fernet
Joe | Last Updated: May 23, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

Picture yourself in a lively bar, where bartenders work their magic, creating delicious cocktails and chatting with guests.

In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, you might spot a peculiar bottle in the hands of these skilled mixologists.

The notorious Fernet.

This mysterious and dark-colored liqueur has become a trusted companion for many bartenders around the world, leaving many curious about the drink and asking: Why do bartenders drink Fernet?

But what exactly is Fernet, and why has it captured the attention of bartenders?

In this post, we’re going to uncover the reasons behind its popularity among bartenders, as well as explore its historical significance and dive into the cultural and social factors that have contributed to its widespread adoption in the bartending industry.

So without further ado, let’s get into it…

What Is Fernet?

Fernet is a type of herbal liqueur with a distinct and complex flavor profile. It originated in Italy and is made from a combination of various botanicals, roots, and spices.

The exact recipe for Fernet varies among different brands and is often a closely guarded secret, but the liqueur typically has a dark color, resembling brown or black, and it is known for its strong and bitter taste.

Fernet’s flavor is often described as intense, herbal, and medicinal, with notes of mint, anise, and other aromatic herbs. It has a high alcohol content, usually ranging from 35% to 45% by volume.

That’s strong enough to give any bartender a good buzz, especially after a shift of hard graft.

why do bartenders drink fernet

Originally used for its digestive properties, Fernet has become popular as a sipping spirit and a key ingredient in cocktails. It is often enjoyed neat or on the rocks, but it can also be mixed into various drinks to add depth and complexity.

Fernet has gained a particular following among bartenders, who have embraced it as a go-to spirit and a symbol of their craft.

It has become a beloved tradition for many bartenders to partake in a shot of Fernet at the end of a long shift, creating a sense of camaraderie and community among professionals in the industry.

In lots of establishments I’ve worked in over the years, it’s been customary for us to have a hearty shot of Fernet at the end of the shift as a job well done.

We look forward to it and it’s a way to acknowledge one another for our hard work during the shift.

>> Read more: Why do bartenders open cans?

Why Do Bartenders Drink Fernet?

First and foremost, bartenders often have demanding work schedules, which can be physically and mentally exhausting, even for the most experienced of staff.

The long hours, intense multitasking, and high-pressure environment can take a toll on their bodies. Fernet, with its herbal composition, is believed to possess digestive properties and help alleviate some of the discomfort associated with a busy shift.

Bartenders see it as a way to soothe their stomachs and provide relief after hours of serving customers and tasting various ingredients.

But beyond its potential digestive benefits, Fernet’s unique flavor profile plays a significant role in bartenders’ affinity for the drink.

It is a complex and bold liqueur, characterized by its intense bitterness and herbal notes.

Bartenders, who have a refined palate and an appreciation for diverse flavors often find Fernet’s taste one that they enjoy, myself included.

Its distinctive blend of botanicals, roots, and spices adds depth and complexity to cocktails, making it an appealing choice for experimentation and creativity behind the bar.

Fernet has acquired a kind of cultural significance within the bartending community and has become a symbol of camaraderie, fostering a sense of belonging among industry professionals.

why do bartenders drink fernet
Image by « м Ħ ж »

Sharing a shot of Fernet with fellow bartenders, especially at the end of a shift, has become a ritualistic tradition in many bars, certainly, the establishments I’ve worked in.

It serves as a moment of connection, a way to unwind, and a nod to the collective experiences and challenges that bartenders face.

Many of us look forward to a shot of Fernet at the end of the shift as it symbolizes the shift is over and it’s almost time to go home.


The mystique surrounding Fernet also contributes to its appeal as the exact recipe for Fernet is unknown, with different brands offering their own unique interpretations.

>> Read more: Why do bartenders scratch empty bottles?

Is Fernet A Bartenders Drink?

Yes, Fernet is certainly considered to be a “bartender’s drink.” It has gained a significant following and popularity among bartenders worldwide and is enjoyed by many.

But it’s not just the bartending community that enjoys Fernet. While Fernet has gained popularity among bartenders and is often associated with the bartending community, it’s enjoyed by a wide range of people beyond the industry.

Fernet has a growing fan base among spirits enthusiasts and those who appreciate its unique taste and cultural significance.

Many people choose to try Fernet simply due to the mystery surrounding its origins, and then they don’t look back.

While Fernet may have a special connection with bartenders, it is by no means limited to their consumption.

Fernet has a diverse and growing audience that includes just about anyone that knows of its existence and wants to give it a try.

I would highly recommend you give it a try as it’s a one-of-a-kind drink that is truly delicious.

More On Why Bartenders LOVE Fernet

Bartenders view Fernet as a valuable ingredient that can enhance and elevate their creations. Its intense and distinctive flavor profile adds depth and complexity to mixed drinks, creating a unique taste experience.

Its bitter and herbal notes can balance out sweeter or citrusy elements in cocktails, creating a harmonious flavor profile.

Bartenders appreciate the challenge of incorporating Fernet into their cocktail recipes, as it allows them to showcase their creativity and skill in crafting well-balanced and innovative drinks.

why do bartenders drink fernet
Image by Adrian Scottow

Another KEY factor that contributes to bartenders’ love for Fernet is its reputation as a “bartender’s handshake” or a sort of secret code within the industry.

It is seen as a way to unwind, bond with colleagues, and celebrate a hard day’s work. This ritual has created a sense of community and shared experience among bartenders, making Fernet a symbol of their dedication and passion for their craft.

It’s more than just a drink to bartenders and is a symbol of the craft and the hard work they dedicate to it each day.

Wrapping Up

To sum up, Fernet is more than just a drink to bartenders. It’s a symbol of the industry, and the shared ritual of drinking Fernet at the end of a shift has forged a sense of belonging among bartenders.

Simply put, we LOVE it. Whether sipped neat, mixed into cocktails, or shared in a toast, Fernet holds a special place in the hearts and glasses of bartenders worldwide.

It represents dedication, craftsmanship, and shared experiences within the industry.

So, the next time you come across a bartender with a distinctive bottle of Fernet in hand, you now have a deeper understanding of why we cherish this intriguing liqueur.

I hope you’ve learned something new today about the bartending industry and I’ll catch you in the next one.