Recently, we have been enjoying some cocktails made with Chartreuse. According to Camper English of the Alcademics blog, the price of Chartreuse is increasing, nationally, by $11. That’s a bit of a hike, considering this stuff isn’t cheap to begin with. Still, as he notes, some retailers haven’t changed a thing, so now’s the time to go buy yourself a bottle.
Chartreuse is a wonderful spirit with a long and interesting history. First introduced in 1605, the spirit is named after the Grande Chartreuse Monastery in the Chartreuse Mountains of France where it originated. Although it is produced in a factory today, it continues to made under the supervision of monks using a secret recipe containing over 130 different herbs, flowers and “other ingredients”. There are two variations. Green Chartreuse obtains it’s color from the chlorophyl in the herbs and is a strong spirit, weighing in at 110 proof (55%). The unique flavor has been described as sweet, spicy, pungent and vegetal. Yellow Chartreuse has less alcohol (40%) and has a sweeter flavor and aroma.
So, head out to your local liquor store and grab a bottle before the shops replenish inventory and realize they have to raise the price. Look for a chartreuse-colored spirit with a green label and what looks like the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch in the center. But what to do with it? You can obviously drink it straight up or on ice, but the flavor does change at various temperatures. There’s also plenty of cocktails to investigate both new and old. Most recipes use it in smaller amounts (one ounce or less) because the assertive flavor can sometimes overpower other ingredients.
To get you started, here’s a delicious cocktail created by Rob Marais, one of our readers who was inspired by the last post to pick up a bottle of St-Germain. It’s paired with Chartreuse for a nicely-balanced cocktail he calls Portent of Spring. Half of a lime yielded 3/4 ounce of juice for us, but your milage may vary. The grapefruit bitters is definitely a nice touch, as grapefruit is one of the botanicals used to make Beefeater 24. We should have double-strained to remove the ice shards, but we were thirsty!
Portent of Spring by Rob Marais
2 oz Beefeater 24 (Plymouth gin might work as well)
1 oz St-Germain
1 barspoon green Chartreuse
juice of 1/2 lime
1 dash grapefruit bitters
Build in glass over ice, shake strain and serve straight up.
Mr. Marais’ drink Portent of Spring is of particular interest to me, since I published a drink that I called Peek of Spring on my web site in 2007. (The web site was http://www.cocktailsnob.com, which I have now taken down, in anticipation of my upcoming book, Destination: Cocktails).
The ingredients in both drinks are identical except for the grapefruit bitters; the ratios are *nearly* identical.
It sure is! I don’t know if Rob is watching this page, but when he suggested the recipe it was in a comment on this post:
He may be subscribed to that comment thread–might be worth commenting over there and introduce yourself.