Chartreuse is one of the oldest and most interesting spirits on the market today. It is distilled by Carthusian monks in the French Alps. Chartreuse is an herbal liqueur with around 400 years of history, but is pretty much unknown. As the story goes, only two monks from the order know the secret recipe and each was only told half of the whole recipe. Being monks, they have taken a vow of silence. Green Chartreuse is one of the popular forms of the drink and is made from 130 herbs, plants, and flowers. It is 110 proof and has an intense floral and herbal flavor with hints of cloves, citrus, thyme, rosemary and cinnamon. The color is actually green from Chlorophyll found in the plants.
There is also Yellow Chartreuse, which is less common and has less availability, has yellowish color. Yellow Chartreuse is also made from 130 herbs, plants and flowers. The difference between the green and yellow varieties is determined by the herbs used, although the process for distilling both is the same. Yellow Chartreuse is only 86 proof and has a distinct citrus, violet and honey taste accented by anise, licorice and saffron.
Chartreuse pairs wonderfully with desserts and chocolate (especially Green Chartreuse). Both are a little pricy, but will probably last all summer long. It is often enjoyed straight or on the rocks and can be found in some cocktails. Here are two of them to enjoy -
This cocktail is reminiscent of sitting in your herb garden sipping lemonade on a late summers eve. It's not only refreshing, but hydrating as it is prepared with many herbs. To get the full expression, simply mix it with fresh lemon juice and soda water, which will bring its flavor.
- 1.5 oz Green Chartreuse
- 1 oz Fresh lemon juice
- 1 oz Cane sugar
- Garnish Lemon Verbana leaf or fresh lemon thyme
- Collins glass
Preparation - Combine all ingredients with equal parts water and soda water stirred over ice.
- 1.5 oz Blanco Tequila
- 3/4 oz Chartreuse Green liqueur
- 3/4 inch cucumber
- 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
- 3/4 ounce agave nectar syrup (1:1 water to nectar)
- Large pinch freshly chopped arugula
- 1 mint sprig
- Garnish with mint sprig and cucumber skin ribbons
Preparation - Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled rocks glass with ice.