Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Suze, Saintes

Eleven minutes in Saintes, part 3 (Go to part 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

After the Dubonnet sign, and only a few metres away from the Valentine sign is this ad for another aperitif: Suze, with its characteristic yellow background.


Although the Rousseau, Laurens et Moureaux distillery was founded in 1795 outside Paris in Maison Alfort, it was only in 1895 that Fernand Moureaux decided to create an aperitif that wasn't wine-based. The alternative he came up with, using a Swiss recipe, was gentian roots, both distilled and infused. This Alpine plant, to which extracts of several aromatic plants are added, gives Suze its peculiar bitter taste and yellow colour. After four years of research the new aperitf was launched. Called Suze, either after Moureaux's sister-in-law Suzanne or a Swiss river, it was sold in an easily recognizable bottle designed by Henri Porte. By the turn of the century Suze had become a common sight on the tables of French cafés and in 1912 Picasso immortalized it on his collage 'Glass and Bottle of Suze'. However in a tough aperitif market, Suze needed more than Picasso to strengthen its position. That was why in 1922 Moureaux launched a huge advertising campaign. The aim: to have the name Suze painted in every French village! I don't know whether they succeeded but there are certainly quite a few signs left...
1945 saw a major change: the alcohol level was lowered from thirty-two degrees to sixteen. In 1965 the Suze brand was purchased by Pernod Ricard. More about Suze since then can be found on the company's website. At the bottom of the page is a display of limited-edition bottles designed since 2001 by the likes of Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Christian Lacroix, Sonia Rykiel or Thierry Mugler among others.


Location: Avenue Aristide Briand, Saintes, Charente-Maritime / Picture taken on: 06/06/2010

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