French Beverages, Part 6: Suze

Suze is a bitter wine based  aperitif made from distilling the roots of the gentian plant and sold by the Pernod-Ricard Liqueur Company.  Suze is the fifth most popular aperitif in France.  Apparently this 15% ABV liqueur has recently also become available for purchase in the United States.

Suze was created by Fernand Moureaux in Paris in 1885, but not marketed until 1889.  Suze is known for its slender amber bottle, designed in 1896 by Henri Porte.  A Suze bottle is the subject of Picasso’s 1912 cubist image “Verre et bouteille de Suze” (Glass and Bottle of Suze) that is currently on displayed at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum located on the campus at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

According to Pernod-Richard, who owns the brand, “The origin of the name “Suze” is disputed. According to the first theory, it was named after Fernand Moureaux’s sister-in-law, whose name was Suzanne and who loved the aperitif. Second theory: the drink was named after a little river in Switzerland, one of the first countries to adopt the drink.”


With the history behind Suze, I was looking forward to trying it.  In Carcassonne, I was served Suze as two ounces of the chartreuse colored liqueur over  ice.

What do I think?  Once was enough.  It has a very distinct bitter taste that was unpleasant  for me.  While not actually tasting “burnt,” it’s the word that first came into my mind.  I really cannot think of ever wanting another.  I don’t dislike strong liquors or liqueurs straight, in fact I prefer my Scotch and other whiskeys “neat,” but there was nothing redeeming in the taste of Suze for me.

At the Suze website,, there are some Suze based cocktails that might mitigate the taste.  But I believe if you have to hide the taste of a liqueur you have to ask yourself, “Why am I drinking this?”

Bottles of Suze
Bottles of Suze

2 thoughts on “French Beverages, Part 6: Suze

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