Grape(s): Mistelle base
Mistelle Definition: Mistelle (Italian: mistella; French: mistelle; Spanish, Portuguese, Galician and Catalan: mistela, from Latin mixtella/mixtvm "mix") is sometimes used as an ingredient in fortified wines, particularly Vermouth, Marsala, and Sherry, though it is used mainly as a base for apéritifs such as the French Pineau des Charentes. It is produced by adding alcohol to non-fermented or partially fermented grape juice (or apple juice to make pommeau). The addition of alcohol stops the fermentation and, as a consequence Mistelle is sweeter than fully fermented grape juice in which the sugars turn to alcohol.
Localization: Roussillon, France (Byrrh is produced in Thuir, in the heart of French Catalan territory, near the coast and border with Spain).
Drink pairing: A fruity, refreshing aperitif by itself, with tonic and a twist, or paired with blue cheese. In cocktails, Byrrh mixes well with vodka, gin, cognac, tequila, Irish whiskey, and grapefruit.
Try mixing 1.5 oz Byrrh and 0.5oz of mezcal—this combination is intense, complex, and low-pour cost, whether finished as a long drink with grapefruit and soda, or a stirred drink with your favorite bitters.
Food pairing: Pairs well with blue cheese
The Domain: In 1866, brothers and traveling merchants Simon and Pallade Violet opened a shop in Thuir with a few small barrels of wine. Simon created a unique recipe from a blend of fine Roussillon wines flavored with plant extracts and enhanced with cinchona bark (quinine). At first called simply “Hygienic Tonic Wine with Cinchona,” the beverage was named Byrrh in 1876. According to one story, the name is a random invention: the letters B Y R R H were simply coded letters attached to a few rolls of cloth stored in the haberdashery owned by the Violet brothers. The company expanded rapidly beginning in the late 1800s, and the Violet family built the expansive cellars that exist today. Caves Byrrh contains the largest oak vat in the world, with a capacity of over 1 million liters.