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Virtual Happy Hour: Byrrh Squared at Superba Snack Bar

Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist
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A while back, we started hearing some rumblings about a funny little thing called called byrrh. Created in 19th century France, this 125-year-old red-wine-based quinquina is actually made by fortifying wine from the Laungedoc region with herbs, namely quinine.

That might sound sort of strange, but it's appealing to us for two reasons: Firstly, we are big fans of amaro. And second, this byrrh business had been outlawed in the U.S. for more than a decade. And we all know how much Big Brother likes to keep the good stuff out of our hot little hands.

So we came across the Byrrh Squared cocktail at Superba Snack Bar, we were understandably excited. (The French apertif is actually pronounced "beer," making things even more confusing, but it's great for naming a cocktail.) The drink is made with byrrh (which as of last year legal to distribute in the States), muddled orange and a nice, spicy ginger beer.

As far as cocktails go, it's an easy sipper. Think of it as a wine spritzer with character. There's definitely a bitterness to byrrh on its own, but it's also notably sweet in comparison to other apertifs. And adding that ginger beer is really smart, not only because the drink is so darn balanced, but it's also good to have something to aid digestion after inhaling an entire bowl of Jason Neroni's outrageously good smoked bucatini carbonara. (Try to save some to take home. It cannot be done. Period.)

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Another fun fact about the byrrh, which hopefully won't necessarily be relevant to your happy hour, was that the French used to use it to help prevent malaria. Perhaps the use of the bitter herb quinine is what kept the bugs from biting. Who knows.

So wether you're heading out into the jungle or are just looking to calm your tummy before the weekend of St. Paddy's mayhem begins, the Byrrh will do the trick.

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