Byrrh Cocktail – David Embury

There are two cocktails made with Byrrh, one with gin and the other with rye, both of which, unfortunately, are commonly referred to as the Byrrh Cocktail. To be safe, therefore, it is best to specify the liquor as well as the wine

1 part French Vermouth

1 part Gin or Rye

2-4 parts Byrrh, according to taste

Stir with large cubes of ice. A twist of lemon over each glass.

After the success of the merry widow and Dubonnet I thought I’d look for a drink for Byrrh (pronounced ‘Beer’). I picked up a bottle a while back, tasted it, and promptly forgot all about it. Re-tasting it today, time in the fridge has been kind to it, and it may have lost a little freshness but is still delicious. Byrrh is Dubonnets younger brother, on steroids, with more depth of flavour, almost like a Pedro Ximenez sherry, and more pronounced bitterness from the quinine.

It only appears in Embury out of my three books, and noting that he has two recipes, one with Gin, and one with Rye I thought I’d try both.

When I first tried the Byrrh I thought it might work well in a Manhattan instead of the red vermouth, as long as you have a punchy whiskey to stand up against the more flavourful Byrrh, and trying the two recipes next to each other generated an easy winner. We tried this up on the bar and the choice from the staff was unanimous in favour of the rye version. The gin produces a blander drink, the Byrrh just overpowers it, trying this first I was a little disappointed. The Rye on the other hand works beautifully, the two flavours complement each other and it’s a great sipping drink.

Sauvee indeed.