It's Pronounced Beer!
Byrrh is the outstanding wine-based quinine-flavoured aperitif from Roussillon, on the French-Spanish border and is confusingly pronounced “beer”. Its creator, Simon Violet, apparently threw some random letters on the floor to create the name!
At 'Craft Beer Rising' in London in February, an enterprising bartender did manage to put the two together in a cocktail: 35ml Byrrh, 15ml Crème de Cassis Gabriel Boudier, 10ml lemon juice, topped with pilsner beer.
Refreshing though that sounds, Byrrh is most at home in drinks where you would usually find a red vermouth, where it adds a delicious twist; in a Negroni, it is sublime. Or, for a cooling long drink in summer, try it over ice with bitter lemon.
It is still made in the 19th century cellars in Thuir, home to the biggest wine vat it the world, and to the original recipe.
Production starts with fine Roussillon wine, partly fermented to keep some of its natural grape sugar – no other sugar is added – macerated with flavours such as bitter orange, cocoa and above all quinine; its origins were as a drink that was “tonique et hygienique”, and it was intended, like so many drinks of the time, to keep malaria at bay.
It became a French classic between the wars and you can still find the old advertisements painted on the side of buildings across France.
So now you can pour yourself a Byrrh and beer, relax, and don’t worry about the spelling - Simon Violet didn't!