Izarra (liqueur)

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This article is about the liqueur. For village in Álava, see Izarra, Álava.
Izarra
Izarra-1924.jpg
Type Liqueur
Manufacturer Rémy Cointreau
Country of origin Northern Basque Country, France
Introduced 1904
Proof 40-48
Colour yellow & green
Variants Yellow Izarra, Green Izarra

Izarra is a sweet liqueur made in Bayonne in the French Basque Country. The distillery is situated in Bayonne, by the river Adour, and is open to visitors. The company headquarters of Distillerie de la Côte Basque however are located in St. Jean de Luz.

Types[edit]

There are three varieties of Izarra:

  • Yellow Izarra (Izarra Horia in Basque, Izarra Jaune in French) is made with 13 herbs with a predominantly almond taste and is 80° proof (US, or 40% alcohol)
  • Green Izarra (Izarra Berdea in Basque, Izarra Vert in French) is made with 16 herbs and has a peppermint taste and is also 80° proof.
  • Izarra 54, launched in 2012, uses a recipe similar to the traditional Green Izarra from 1910 and is stronger at 108° proof (54% alcohol). It has an intermediate yellow-green color, and is favored for cocktails.


Pyrenean herbs and other flavourings are used in a fifteen-month process to produce the liqueur. Four different liquids are produced: alcohol distilled with herbal flavorings; a liquid resulting from the soaking of prunes and walnut shells in armagnac; syrup of sugar and local acacia honey; and a colouring infusion of saffron for the yellow and several plants for the green variety. The liqueur matures for six months in barrels before it is bottled.

In recent years the company has begun to diversify its range and has added varieties such as Izarra Manzana Verde.

Izarra is drunk on its own, on ice or in cocktails, frequently with gin. It can be found in chocolates and desserts. The drink is ubiquitous in the Northern Basque Country and is also found in the rest of France and parts of Europe. Traditionally the company has used the slogan Le soleil et la neige des Pyrénées ("the sun and the snow of the Pyrenees").

History[edit]

Joseph Grattau, a botanist, bought the recipe in the late 19th century for a traditional Basque liqueur dating back at least to 1835. He renamed it Izarra (Basque for "the star") and began selling it from 1904 onwards. He acquired the present production site at Quai Bergeret 9 in Bayonne in 1913. Izarra has been owned by Rémy Cointreau since the early 1980s.