Byrrh









Byrrh is a blend of red wine and quinine or tonic water. Byrrh was created in 1886. It was popular as a French apéritif. with its marketing and reputation as a "hygienic drink," Byrrh sold well in the early twentieth century. It was even exported, despite a name complicating sales as the word "byrrh" evokes ideas of similarities to "beer" for English- and German-language speakers.


History




Brothers Pallade and Violet Simon, itinerant drapers, decided to take advantage of the wine fever in the region to develop an aperitif wine flavored with cinchona. They mixed dry wines and mistelles. The resulting product was initially marketed as a health drink or tonic. This was because the local aperitif producers were not happy at competition to their established brands. The brothers re-branded the drink as a health drink to get round this problem, and it was sold in pharmacies.

The Second World War initiated the decline of Byrrh. Aided by tax benefits, natural sweet wines such as banyuls, Muscat de Frontignan and Rivesaltes superseded Byrrh, which went out of fashion. In 1977 the family business, divided by strife, was acquired by Pernod-Ricard. Pernod Ricard still make the drink at their Perpignan facility. Which incidentally is well worth visiting as it was designed by Gustav Eiffel (cf. the tower)