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Drink of the Week: Champs Élysées

Champs ÉlyséesHere is an excellent tipple to add to your weekend repertoire. You might have seen this one appear on the menus at some of your favorite craft cocktail bars recently even though it's more than 80 years old. It dates at least as far back as Harry Craddock's Savoy Cocktail Book. This is one of those rediscovered recipes that seems to have legs—bars that were once excited about the Aviation and later, the Last Word are putting this drink into rotation. And they should, because this is a wonderful cocktail.

Of course, the Champs Élysées name is a reference to the fashionable tree-lined avenue in Paris, possibly because of the French ingredients. Certainly, a good French Cognac is going to help the flavor of this drink to a point, but spending too much on the base spirit will leave you trying to find where your money went in a mixed drink. The Chartreuse—in this case probably Green Chartreuse—is also French, so that might help explain the name.

As far as flavor goes, this cocktail is sometimes described as a bit on the sweet side, but it really comes down to balance. Controlling the sour can be a little tricky when you combine simple syrup and Chartreuse, but with a 1:1 syrup ratio you are probably safely beyond the sour end of the spectrum with the recipe here. However, it's the fresh lemon juice that is your wildcard, and the herbal complexity of the Chartreuse can distract you from getting the balance just right. The good news is that although it may seem more evolved than the Aviation or the Last Word, the Champs Élysées is going to taste fantastic even if it's a little sweet or a little sour. You can make the effort to adjust it or simply enjoy it however it comes out. Brandy as a base spirit works nicely in the background, not taking over the flavor the way a whiskey might. And the Angostura adds the spices necessary to bring it all together. In some ways, this is like a Sidecar meets the Last Word. We absolutely love cocktails with Chartreuse, so it's no wonder this recipe is among our favorites.

Champs Elysées
1.5 oz brandy
.5 oz Chartreuse
.75 oz lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

6 comments to Drink of the Week: Champs Élysées

  • Looks similar in form to the Honeymoon Cocktail (brandy, herbal liqueur, lemon, syrup), which is another good one. I'll have to give it a try, though I might have to fiddle since I only have yellow Chartreuse.

  • I guess the Savoy doesn't actually specify yellow or green. We are making an assumption about that, but yellow would come out a little sweeter. I don't think you can make a bad drink either way!

  • Greco

    I love green Chartreuse, but I've never considered making this drink with the green. It's one of the greatest cocktails of all time if you use yellow. I follow the Savoy ratio pretty much exactly. 1.5 oz of cognac (use a good VSOP), .75 oz of "sweetened lemon juice," .5 oz of yellow Chartreuse, and one dash of Angostura bitters (3 or 4 drops - never free pour dashes of bitters!). For the "sweetened lemon juice" I just eyeball a combination of lemon juice and a little bit of simple syrup. The drink won't be overly sweet if the lemon juice mixture is primarily lemon juice.

    The Honeymoon Cocktail is another wonderful drink. In fact, it's on my itinerary for tomorrow night! It is similar, but wonderfully different in its own way.

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    • Hollister, instead of the improved cinch, why not try the Improved Gin Cocktail? Or have you already had too many drinks to realize what website this is? Or perhaps you are just phishing for someone to click your name?

      Note: Folks, I normally remove rare comments like these that get through the spam filter, but once in a while I leave them when they are good for a chuckle or two!

  • Non-specific Low-down Far this outcome

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