Jan Becher

Last updated

Jan Becher is a Czech liqueur company headquartered in Karlovy Vary. The most famous product of Becher is Becherovka.



Jan Becher headquarters in Karlovy Vary Becherovka Hauptsitz in Karlsbad (Seitenansicht).JPG
Jan Becher headquarters in Karlovy Vary
Becherovka is the most popular product of Jan Becher Becherovka02.jpg
Becherovka is the most popular product of Jan Becher

The company Jan Becher — Karlovarská Becherovka, a.s., dates back 200 years to the first decade of the 19th century. In 1807, Josef Becher, a pharmacist from Karlovy Vary (then called Karlsbad), started selling bitters made to his own recipe as a medicinal tonic. In 1841, Josef Becher passed on his budding business to his son and heir Johann. Johann started large-scale production, and accordingly his name has been associated with Becherovka to the present day. The drink was called Karlsbader Becherbitter. The name Becherovka was developed after World War I, when Bohemia became part of Czechoslovakia, and the sole official language Czech.

Over the next hundred years (until 1945), the management of the company was passed down through the Becher family. After World War II, the company was nationalized under the Benes-Decrees that stripped local Germans and Magyars of property and citizenship. The Becherovka company was privatized in 1997, when the French liquor company Pernod Ricard bought 35% of the stock, acquiring another 59% in 2001.

The original owners of the company were not willing to accept this fate without struggle. After her father Alfred Becher died in 1940, and her brother and her husband drafted in the German army, where both died in World War II, the young Hedda Baier-Becher (1914-2007) managed the company. After the expulsion of her family from their native Bohemia, she lived in Cologne, Germany, and in 1949 recreated the company as the Johann Becher OHG Likörfabrik in 1949, with the German assets of her family's company as Germany did not recognize the legality of the expropriation. In 1950 the company moved to Kettwig and in 1984 to Rheinberg. Though she had been forced in 1945 to divulge the secret recipe to the Czech police, she knew the recipe by heart as well, and together with a few workers from the old company created a superior product, sold as "Karlsbader Becher" with distinctive blue-yellow labels. In the 1970s Emil Underberg, of the German manufacturer of bitters Underberg, bought the majority of the company.

For many years, the existence of two companies, the one run by the owners, the other by their expropriator, was not a large issue. The Czech firm sold in the Communist bloc and the German company in Germany. In the early 1980s, though, competition increased and in October 1985 Underberg and the Czech trade ministry made a contract. The German company would cease to make the liquor, in exchange for becoming the sole distributor in Germany of the Czech-made product, but using its own bottles and not those used by the Czech company. When the Czech company ended the agreement in 1994, the Johann Becher OHG began manufacturing Karlsbader Becher again. The Czech firm sued for trademark infringement, but the Landgericht Düsseldorf clarified that Hedda Baier-Becher was, in Germany, the sole legal owner of her father's business, including the trademark Karlsbader Becher.

The conflict was resolved when Pernod Ricard bought the Johann Becher OHG in April 1999, and sold it to the firm Becherovka, before acquiring Becherovka altogether in 2001.


Becherovka is the main product of Jan Becher and has been exported into 35 countries in 2008. Other products are Lemond, Limet , the liqueur Cordial and the Aperitiv KV 14.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Jan Becher at Wikimedia Commons

Related Research Articles

Gin and tonic

A gin and tonic or, less frequently, gin tonic, is a highball cocktail made with gin and tonic water poured over a large amount of ice. The ratio of gin to tonic varies according to taste, strength of the gin, other drink mixers being added, etc., with most recipes calling for a ratio between 1:1 and 1:3. It is usually garnished with a slice or wedge of lime. To preserve effervescence, the tonic can be poured down a bar spoon. The ice cools the gin, dulling the effect of the alcohol in the mouth and making the drink more pleasant and refreshing to taste.

Bitters Type of alcoholic preparation flavored with botanical matter

A bitters is traditionally an alcoholic preparation flavored with botanical matter so that the end result is characterized by a bitter, or bittersweet flavor. Numerous longstanding brands of bitters were originally developed as patent medicines, but now are sold as digestifs, sometimes with herbal properties, and cocktail flavorings. Since cocktails often contain sour and sweet flavors, bitters are used to engage another primary taste and thereby balance out the drink and make it more complex, giving it a more complete flavor profile.

Jägermeister German digestif

Jägermeister is a digestif made with 56 herbs and spices. Developed in 1934 by Wilhelm and Curt Mast, it has an alcohol by volume of 35%. The recipe has not changed since its creation and continues to be served in its signature green glass bottle. It is the flagship product of Mast-Jägermeister SE headquartered in Wolfenbüttel, Germany.

Allied Domecq

Allied Domecq PLC was an international company, headquartered in Bristol, United Kingdom, that operated spirits, wine, and quick service restaurant businesses. It was once a FTSE 100 Index constituent but has been acquired by Pernod Ricard. They had one distillery in India.

Pernod Fils was the most popular brand of absinthe throughout the 19th century until it was banned in 1915. During the Belle Époque, the Pernod Fils name became synonymous with absinthe, and the brand represented the de facto standard of quality by which all others were judged.

Pernod Ricard French company that produces distilled beverages

Pernod Ricard is a French company that produces alcoholic beverages. The company's eponymous products, Pernod Anise and Ricard Pastis, are both anise-flavoured pastis apéritifs and are often referred to simply as Pernod or Ricard. The company also produces several other types of pastis. It is the world’s second-largest wine and spirits seller.

Becherovka Herbal bitters from the Czech Republic

Becherovka, formerly Karlsbader Becherbitter, is a herbal bitters, often drunk as a digestive aid. It is produced in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic by the Jan Becher company. The brand is owned by Pernod Ricard. It is made from a secret recipe based on more than twenty types of herbs and spices.

Tia Maria Dark liqueur

Tia Maria is a dark liqueur made originally in Jamaica using Jamaican coffee beans, but now made in Italy. The main flavour ingredients are coffee beans, Jamaican rum, vanilla, and sugar, blended to an alcoholic content of 20%.


Underberg is a digestif bitter produced at Rheinberg in Germany by Underberg AG, made from aromatic herbs from 43 countries, which undergo inspections and are based on a secret Underberg family recipe whose members are personally responsible for the production of the drink. Underberg is one of the most widespread kräuterlikörs on the market. Underberg contains 1.3 percent herbal extract by weight, which includes aromatic, digestion-stimulating, relaxing and calming active substances, and naturally occurring vitamin B1. The drink matures in Slovenian oak barrels for several months to enhance the flavour. Underberg is classified under "food and drinks: oils, herbs and spices" in the United States and can be sold without any sort of liquor license.


Kräuterlikör[ˈkʀɔɪtɐlikøːɐ] is a type of liqueur that is flavored with herbs or spices and traditionally drunk neat as a digestif.

Grandhotel Pupp Luxury Czech hotel

The Grandhotel Pupp is a 228-room luxury hotel located in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czech Republic. The hotel hosts the annual Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Beefeater Gin

Beefeater Gin is a brand of gin owned by Pernod Ricard and bottled and distributed in the United Kingdom, by the company of James Burrough. Beefeater remained in the Burrough's family control until 1987. It is a 47% or 44% alcohol product in the US, and a 40% alcohol product elsewhere in the world. The Beefeater distillery is one of 24 in London.

HC Karlovy Vary

HC Energie Karlovy Vary is a professional ice hockey team based in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. They play in the highest-level national league, the Czech Extraliga.

Amaro (liqueur) Italian herbal liqueur

Amaro is an Italian herbal liqueur that is commonly consumed as an after-dinner digestif. It usually has a bitter-sweet flavour, sometimes syrupy, and has an alcohol content between 16% and 40%.

Fernet Stock Herbal bitters from the Czech Republic

Fernet Stock is a herbal bitters made in Plzeň-Božkov, Czech Republic. It is flavoured with approximately 14 herbs, imported from the Mediterranean and the Alps. It is also available in a sweeter form as Fernet Stock Citrus. The original Fernet is approximately 40% alcohol, whereas the Citrus is a lower 30%.

Limet is a herbal bitters made in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, flavored with anise seeds, cinnamon, various herbs, and a rich citrus flavor according to a recipe of the Becher family. It is normally served cold, and is often used as an aid to digestion. It can also be served with a tonic water, in which case it is known as a "beton". Its alcohol content is 38 percent. The alcohol is based on the original Becherovka, similarly made from a secret mixture of different herbs.


Kuemmerling is the brandname of a type of Kräuterlikör from Germany, belonging to the group of Halbbitter.

Walter Becher was a German Bohemian politician, representative of the All-German Bloc/League of Expellees and Deprived of Rights (GB/BHE), All German Party (GDP) and the Christian Social Union of Bavaria.

Sazerac Company Alcoholic drinks company based in New Orleans, US

Sazerac Company, Inc is a privately held American alcoholic beverage company headquartered in Metairie in the metropolitan area of New Orleans, Louisiana, but with its principal office in Louisville, Kentucky. The company is owned by billionaire William Goldring and his family. As of 2017, it operated nine distilleries, had 2,000 employees, and operated in 112 countries. It is one of the two largest spirits companies in the U.S., with annual revenue of about $1 billion made from selling about 300 mostly discount brands.