The first ever Fernet-Branca coin was created in 2013 to consolidate what had long since been a common habit in the bartender community of San Francisco.
Bartenders were accustomed to having a shot of Fernet-Branca when they changed shifts and it became known as the ‘bartender handshake’ whose purpose was to mark the moment in which bartending duty was passed over to a colleague.
Being naturally close to the bartender community and people in the know, Fernet-Branca took the chance of taking this ritual further with the creation of a coin to celebrate this precise moment.
Since than, the ritual has been extended to all bars, so when a bartender visits another bar and shows an Fernet-Branca coin to a colleague behind the counter, he is offered a free shot of Fernet, unless he is presented with another coin in response and the ‘bartender handshake’ takes place in celebration of their joint membership in the guild.
Fernet-Branca coins rapidly came to symbolize bartender community membership. They travelled across oceans and continents to the most remote corners of the world. They not only represented a momentary achievement but an authentic collectible, jealously guarded as a status symbol and a privilege.
Reciprocal recognition, a sense of mutual belonging and a desire to be great protagonists of the Fernet-Branca family. In the name of these values, for years the most impassioned bartender community has been collecting, exchanging and requesting Fernet-Branca coins.
When you place a Fernet-Branca coin on the bar, you make a statement. It’s like knocking on the door of a members-only establishment.
Whoever goes into a bar and orders Fernet-Branca is somebody in the know, part of a small club, and the coin is just an extension of that.
Being part of the fraternity of craft cocktail bartenders is not about wearing sweatshirts or having a uniform, it means having things like a Fernet coin.
Since 2013, Fernet-Branca never stopped crafting limited edition coins linked to special milestones in the bartending community and, in response to community members’ insights and input, a proper list of rules was drawn up.
Do you want to know the main rules of the Fernet-Branca coin challenge?
Here they are:
1. You don’t just request a Fernet-Branca coin. You have to earn it.
2. The Fernet-Branca coin is reciprocally recognised and confers a sense of common belonging.
3. It is an honour to receive a Fernet-Branca Coin. It may only be given up in exchange for a different edition.
4. Have your Fernet-Branca Coin with you at all times.
5.When you give someone a Fernet-Branca Coin you invite them to be part of a brotherhood; it is an honour to possess a coin, and not only: a coin that is gifted or awarded as a prize has a more personal value than a bought coin.
6. If a Fernet-Branca Coin is altered in any way, it automatically loses part of its value. For example, if you perforate the coin to make it into a charm or a key ring.
7. The Fernet-Branca coin is a recognizable symbol in the Bartenders’ Community and must be displayed at the right moment and whenever you wish. For instance, when you enter a Bar you can place it on the Counter to manifest your bond with the Fernet Family and the Bartender Community.
8. When you show your Fernet-Branca Coin, place the medal directly onto the counter or table, but never put it in the hands of another person, in order to preserve its ownership.
9. The best time to show the Fernet-Branca coin is when you order a round of Fernet-Branca shots.
10. In case you lose your Coin Fernet-Branca … all we can say is: never lose your Fernet-Branca coin!