Picon was born in Genoa, Italy in 1809 (Genoa had been annexed to France in 1805.) His family moved to Genoa in 1815. He apprenticed at distilleries in Aix-en-Provence, Toulon and Marseille. He was interested in chemistry, and in the botanical property of plants. In 1837, he was with the French army in Algeria under Marshall Vallé (1773 – 1846), the Governor of Algeria. Picon contracted malaria, which he’d also had when he was younger. He tried to recreate a mixture that his grandmother had prepared for him at that time, that he believed had helped him. He tried several batches and mixtures before he felt that he had it right. He made it from alcohol infused with dried orange zest, then distilled. To this he added gentian root, quinine, sugar syrup and caramel. He called it his “tisane” (tea.). In 1872, Picon relocated to Marseilles and opened a large distillery. At the same time, he renamed the product to “Amer Picon.”
Lemon peel, gentian, cinchona macerated in eau-de-vie.