Friday's Favorite French Things
Back on the booze theme again.
Classed as a bitters, and containing extracts of gentiane (see my entry on Suze) quinine and orange bark, Picon was invented in 1873 by Gaétan Picon.
According to the French Wiki entry:
Born in 1809, he was apprenticed in distileries in Aix-en-Provence, Toulon et Marseille. In 1837, While serving in Algeria with the French army, he invented Picon.
Gaétan Picon created his first distillery to produce the African bitters in an Algerian village, he then followed with a number of others: Constantine, Bône and Algiers. In 1872, he returned to France, he created his first factory at Marseille. From this time on, the bitters were named Picon.
Since 1995, Picon has diversified and there are now 2 different types: The original, called Picon bière and Picon club, for mixing with white wine.
Originally at 21°, since 1989 it has been produced at 18° provoking the ire of its devoted fans.
In 2003, 70% of sales were in the North and East of France. Total production for that year was 4 million bottles.
I was introduced to Picon beer at our café when, getting bored of lager I asked Michel for something different. He served me a Picon beer, and the caramel flavours reminded me of English winter ales. It immediately made the blond lager more complex and refreshing.