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cdh

Sitting down with a Byrrh

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Since vermouth and Lillet have gotten their own threads, I thought it time to branch out in an even more obscure direction. Anybody else here have a taste for Byrrh? This is a french aperitif, probably a separate species in the vermouth genus, that has quite turned me on recently. The flavor is a lot like a port that has been dosed with a bit of quinine for a mild bitterness. There is definitely some wood in there, a nice acid structure, albeit a little sweet, and it is quite a pleasant combination.

I'm on my last bottle of it at the moment, as the PA liquor monopoly stopped stocking it a year or two ago... Will miss it when it is gone.

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Is there -anywhere- in the US where you can get Byrrh? I've never seen it on any of the internet spirits stores, and we haven't carried it here in WA state for -years-. I've got a single old bottle of it that I picked up a long time ago, and haven't had the heart to crack the lid yet.

-Robert

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I've seen something Byrrh branded for sale at Astor Wines and spirits in NYC... about $20 (twenty... hope the numerals don't turn into thai letters like they seem to 'round here when following a $), which is about twice what PA was asking or it when I picked up my last bottles of it. The bottle at Astor looks sharp and newly redesigned. Not sure if it the same stuff or not, as I've not looked for the stuff until I noticed how low my present bottle is.

Problem finding it may be one of categorization. How in the world do you categorize this stuff? I'd bet that Cinzano and Martini&Rossi would throw a fit if wacky stuff like this were filed as vermouths... it is an orphan product in a category all its own. Tough to search for in category driven search systems.

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i understand there was a fourth wise man who'd brought a jar of byrrh with him. apparently he never made it to bethlehem--he was found some days later wandering drunk around damascus.

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yeah, i think astor wines & spirits does carry byrrh. i feel like it was near the vermouth, but also near the punt e mes and things like that. does that help with categorization at all?

and sorry if this is changing the subject (is it?), but how about Suze? i noticed it in the liquor store recently but don't know anything about it. has anyone tried it?

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I'm on my last bottle of it at the moment, as the PA liquor monopoly stopped stocking it a year or two ago... Will miss it when it is gone.

They might have stopped stocking it, but it's still on their list as available through a special liquor order. I mean, if you want to bother with that. Oh and also you have to order half a case minimum.

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is it still on the list? I checked a few months back and it didn't come up on the computer database. Just checked again, and it's there now, but with a minimum order of 6 bottles, and at 18 bucks per. If I'm really jonesing for it, I'll stop in at Astor when I'm in NYC.

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and sorry if this is changing the subject (is it?), but how about Suze? i noticed it in the liquor store recently but don't know anything about it. has anyone tried it?

Not changing the subject at all... I wanted this to be a broad discussion of wacky aperitifs, not just the Byrrh.

As to Suze, I've never had the chance to try it. I gather it is primarily gentian flavored, though have no clue what gentian tastes like.

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is it still on the list? I checked a few months back and it didn't come up on the computer database. Just checked again, and it's there now, but with a minimum order of 6 bottles, and at 18 bucks per. If I'm really jonesing for it, I'll stop in at Astor when I'm in NYC.

Put together a six-bottle order, and we'll share! I'll take one. Katie?

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a very reasonable thought indeed.

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As to Suze, I've never had the chance to try it.  I gather it is primarily gentian flavored, though have no clue what gentian tastes like.

Gentian tastes very bitter, medicinal, and is kind of astringent.

Edited to say that I have an Italian digestif called Genziana which is gentian flavored, which I'd be happy to share. It's brutal, but kinda good in a really weird way.


Edited by mrbigjas (log)

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May have to take you up on that offer at some future Pizza Club adventure. How's gentian as a post pizza digestif?

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Had similar trouble finding Becherovka for a while. Don't worry, your esoteric siparoonie of choice will turn up before too long.

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May have to take you up on that offer at some future Pizza Club adventure. How's gentian as a post pizza digestif?

Gentian (and this other one called Centerba) are good digestifs for everything!

I don't know if I'm making the Trenton pizza club run yet... maybe another one.

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Byrrh showed up in Portland Oregon last week. $21 A bottle. Excellent addition to the local choices.

We made Byrrh Cocktails - 1.5 oz Byrr, 1 oz VSOP Cognac & 1/4 oz kirsch - shaken. I tried it stirred and it wasn't nearly as good. The kirsch didn't show as much and the shaking develops a nice froth.

We also made the Le Negociant Cocktail Recipe on the back of the bottle of Byrrh - 1 oz Byrrh, 1 oz Rhum Agricole, 1/2 oz Elderflower Liquor, 1/2 oz lemon juice - shake and strain.

The Byrrh Cocktail would make a great after dinner drink. The Le Negociant is lighter and very refreshing. I'll be making them both in the future.

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For those seeking a gentian experience, Bittermens new line includes a hefty take on gentian-based amari, Amere Sauvage, and their Amere Nouvelle is styled after Byrh's cousin, Amer Picon. Which leads me to wonder how the Nouvelle would work in some of the recipes above . . . .

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As I type this I'm tasting it for the very first time. I served it the way I often serve apertifs, with a single large ice cube. It's really interesting. I get the port comparison. 

 

EDIT

I've seen a few cocktail recipes floating around--Kindred has some--but I have to admit my first thought was some kind of Manhattan variation. Maybe Dolin jacked with a bit of this. Ritt, maybe, as the base. Altho' I'd be more inclined to use the more subdued WTRYE101 if I could be bothered tracking it down (an advantage of living somewhere where they one of the more memorable Simpsons specials: you can still dig up things like that).

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I enjoyed an aperitif of equal parts Byrrh and Cynar last night. Rich, but delicious. Would probably make for a nice Boulevardier riff.

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I enjoyed an aperitif of equal parts Byrrh and Cynar last night. Rich, but delicious. Would probably make for a nice Boulevardier riff.

 

Sounds interesting!

 

I had a Boulevardier riff using Cardamaro and AE bourbon recently but it was a bit too sweet to me. Byrrh might work with a more typical bourbon or even rye. But I also like Byrrh on its own or with just a splash of soda.

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I enjoyed an aperitif of equal parts Byrrh and Cynar last night. Rich, but delicious. Would probably make for a nice Boulevardier riff.

 

I just made this. It's a bit like Power Rangers. 'Cynar! Byrrh! When your powers combine ...'

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El Momento Perfecto (Daniel Bovey via Gaz Regan) with Plantation 3 Stars white rum, Lillet blanc, Byrrh, Campari, orange bitters (Regan, Angostura, Fee), homemade kumquat marmalade.

 

This was very nice and the bottle of Byrrh that I opened for the occasion is delicious stuff. Can't wait to try more things with it.

 

17073160370_7d9ec4ae91_z.jpg


Edited by FrogPrincesse (log)
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A very simple Manhattan variation where I substituted part of the sweet vermouth for Byrrh. The rationale is that Willet 2-year + Cocchi vermouth di Torino is a little austere and I wanted a small burst of (slightly bitter) fruit. The Byrrh has bright red berry notes.

 

2 oz Willet 2-year rye, 3/4 oz Cocchi vermouth di Torino, 1/4 oz Byrrh, 2 dashes Miracle Mile forbidden bitters, brandied cherry.

 

18038818316_99f9d3b981_z.jpg

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Byrrh Cocktail (J. A. Grohusko, 1910, Jack's Manual, via Martin's Index) with Byrrh grand quinquina, Noilly Prat extra dry vermouth, Michter's straight rye whiskey.

Light-weight but full of personality. I enjoyed this very much.

 

24689640709_ae4b31965f_h.jpg

 


Edited by FrogPrincesse Typo (log)
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And here is the sweet vermouth version, created 4 years after the dry vermouth version. Byrrh Cocktail (Jacques Straub, 1914) with Byrrh grand quinquina, Martini Gran Lusso vermouth, Michter's straight rye.

 

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They are both good but I preferred the dry vermouth for the simple reason that there was more contrast between the dry vermouth and the Byrrh, and therefore the resulting flavors were more interesting.

 

The Savoy Cocktail book has its own variation of this as well (Byrrh, sweet vermouth and Canadian Club whisky, in equal parts).


Edited by FrogPrincesse Typo, attempt to remove unwanted links (log)

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