Above: Bottling line display in the museum at Becherovka distillery in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Europe has a rich tradition of producing bittersweet herbal liquors, originally intended to aid digestion or provide some sort of other health benefit. Campari, Chartreuse and (God help us) Jägermeister belong in this category, for example, and there are many others. TheCzech Republic’s most famous example of the genre is Becherovka, invented by a doctor visiting early 19th-century Karlovy Vary, who worked with a local distiller. It was marketed as a remedy for stomach trouble, and in this spa town, where the aristocracy came to “take the waters,” the spirit must have been a pleasurable change of pace from the sulfurous stuff percolating up from the hot springs.

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