Byrrh, Violet Freres

  • Category Quinquina
  • Country of Origin n.c
  • Manufacturer n.c

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.

With its marketing and reputation as a hygienic beverage, Byrrh sold well in the early 1900s. It was even exported, despite a naming problem: the word "Byrrh" sounds like "beer" to English and German speakers.

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 Aided by tax benefits, natural sweet wines such as banyuls, Muscat de Frontignan and Rivesaltes superseded Byrrh, which went out of fashion.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 was acquired by Pernod-Ricard who still makes the product at its Perpignan facility, which was designed by Gustav Eiffel.

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