Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Byrrh apéritif


It’s made by slinging copious quantities of tree bark extract (quinine) and part-fermented grape juice (mistelle) into enormous vats of sweet Muscat wine. Like many products designed to inebriate it was often marketed for its alleged health benefits. For many years Byrrh was one of France’s most ubiquitously promoted brands. The product name was hand-painted on gable ends at the entrance to a thousand small towns and villages all over La France profonde. Alcohol related paraphernalia took the name into bars and restaurants and the premium priced back page of L’Illustration magazine carried their advertising. The examples here commend it for both romance and family life. At its peak in the interwar years, it has steadily fallen out of favour although it remains in production at the distillery in Thuir. Since 1977 it has been owned by Pernod-Ricard who make only token efforts to publicise it. The photo of the hand-lettered sign on a chimney breast was taken in Vannes.







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