Everything You Need to Know about Chartreuse

Drink Lists Chartreuse
Everything You Need to Know about Chartreuse

Chartreuse is a distinctly radioactive-looking yellow-green elixir from France. You might not open the Chartreuse all that often; perhaps you even find it a bit intimidating. And that’s okay, because unlike a lot of liqueurs, it has a tendency to develop and improve in the bottle.

This herbaceous monk-brewed spirit comes in several varieties, based on a formidably ancient recipe including well over 100 herbs. Green Chartreuse is 110 proof (and by the way comes by its rather dazzling color naturally, from leaves-I’m pretty sure it’s the only spirit with a color named after it). Yellow and white versions are milder. Like many spirits that come from ancient European abbeys, the recipe is jealously guarded (as I understand it, the full formula is known by exactly two monks at any given time; this might or might not be apocryphal), but among other things it contains cinnamon, cardamom, lemon balm, mint, mace, arnica and angelica. It’s sweet, but packs a serious vegetal punch, with a pungent, decidedly feisty flavor that really isn’t like anything else, though if you had to compare it to something, Galliano or Strega might come closest.

Chartreuse is drunk neat and very chilled, or added to cocktails. If you want to play around with it in recipes, some of its potential partners include gin, maraschino and other fruit-forward spirits, spicy stuff including chili peppers, and citrus, perhaps especially tangelo and grapefruit. Or, read on for a few example cocktails that harness its punchy herbaceous nature.

Man on the Moon

Man on the Moon.jpg
Grey Ghost, Detroit

1.5 oz. Jack Daniels Rye
0.375 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
1.0 oz. Pineapple juice
0.75 oz. Toasted sesame syrup
0.75 oz. Lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Directions: Shake. Serve on the rocks. Garnished with a dehydrated lemon slice.

Read’s Secret

Read's Secret.jpg
La Petite Grocery, New Orleans

1 oz. Hat Trick
.5 oz. Green Chartreuse
.5oz Acqua di cedro
.5 oz. Lemon
.75 oz. Coconut
.75 oz. Pineapple
.25 oz. Simple syrup
Pinch mint
1 turn pepper mill

Directions: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with a mint bouquet.

Silent Fizz

Silent Fizz.JPG
Justine, New Orleans

.75 oz Green Chartreuse
.75 oz Yellow Chartreuse
.5 oz Gin
.75 oz Lemon Juice
.25 oz Orange
.5 oz Lemon Saffron Syrup
1 Egg White

Directions: Double shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass with no ice. Top with soda and a drop of Peychauds in the foam.

Diablo Verde

Diablo Verde.jpg
The Grocery, Charleston, SC

1 oz. Espolon Reposado
.5 oz. Green Chartreuse
.5 oz. Ancho Reyes
1 oz. lime juice
.75 oz. brown sugar simple
2 dash jalapeño tincture

Directions: Brown sugar simple is just equal parts by weight brown sugar and water, heated and stirred till dissolved. Jalapeño tincture is 2 jalapeños sliced and soaked overnight in 1 pint of overproof neutral grain spirit. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir. Strain into a glass and top with a couple of jalapenos.

Watchman’s Daiquiri

Watchman's Daiquiri.jpg
Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits, Atlanta

1.5 oz. Denizen aged white rum
.75 oz. lime juice
.5 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
.25 oz. Fines Herbes Syrup*

*Fines Herbes Syrup
1 cup tightly packed mint leaves
1 cup tightly packed chervil
1 cup tightly packed dill
1 cup tightly packed tarragon
2 liters water

Directions for the syrup:Bring the 2 liters water to a boil. Blanch all herbs in boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Immediately shock in ice water bath. Reserve blanching water. This is your herb tea. Take the blanched and shocked herbs and puree in a Vitamix. Start slow and go to the highest setting. puree on high for 1 minute. Strain through chinois, pushing through with a spatula to push all liquid out of pureed herbs. Weigh final liquid and add equal parts white sugar by weight back to the Vitamix and puree together until sugar is completely dissolved. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Directions for the cocktail: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a coupe glass.

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