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43 posts tagged Chartreuse


Author Alex Truman works for, an online spirits and liqueurs retailer specializing in absinthes, bitters and digestifs.

You’ve probably come across chartreuse at your favorite cocktail bar. And it’s usually available in two ubiquitous varieties – green and yellow. But there are many variations of this interesting liqueur, which is backed by a rich history.

Chartreuse is a very unique spirit hailing from the Chartreuse Mountains region of Grenoble in France. It is produced solely by the monks of the Carthusian order in the Grand Charter house of the monastery (pictured below).

chartreuse monastery

The most fascinating thing behind the production of chartreuse is the pure secrecy of the recipe. It is believed that only Minister Benoit and Brother Jean-Jacques know the full list of the 130 ingredients included in the original recipe. The common perception is that 1/3 of the ingredients originate from the Chartreuse region, with the remainder coming from regions all over the world.

The monastery was founded in 1084 by Saint Bruno of Cologne, Germany. The recipe was given to the monks by one of King Henry IV’s Marshall’s in 1605, and this was experimented with for many years. Fast forward a century, and the monk Jérôme Maubec had developed Élixir végétal de la Grande-Chartreuse in 1737. The drink began to be produced more and more as it increased in popularity, and eventually a milder version was created in 1764 – Chartreuse Vertre (green), which was then followed by Chartreuse Juane (yellow) in 1838.

The sale of chartreuse began to finance the maintenance of the monastery and also fund charities and religious projects. Over the years, many people have tried and failed to reproduce the secret recipe, which means we’re still entirely dependent on those monks to keep us plied with this delightful spirit.

Over time, the monks have experimented further and developed many variations of chartreuse, which are certainly worth seeking out. More on that below.


chartreuse distillery

The start of the production process involves the drying, chopping and mixing of 18 tons of plant material within the main abbey of the Carthusian order. These materials are then transported to the distillery in Voiron, which is 24km away. The material will then be macerated in alcohol, and left to distil for approximately eight hours.

When the distillation process has finished, further plant material is macerated in the new distillate. This is how the liqueur gains its color. Upon the completion of the second maceration, the liqueur is taken to the largest liqueur cellar in the world in Voiron. It is left to age in oak casks, with no certain time limit. It will be bottled whenever the monks decide it is appropriate to thin it to appropriate strength.

Since the whole aura surrounding the spirit is very secretive, the best way to discover chartreuse is to taste it. It’s relatively easy to find the green and yellow varieties these days, but below are some of the lesser known variations the monks also produce.


 Chartreuse Elixir Vegetal

This is the original elixir produced by Jérôme Maubec in 1737. It initially contained the words “elixir for long life” on the label, however such claims are no longer acceptable on labels, so that got scrapped. The original tagline nodded to the spirit’s first use as a medical tonic, but over time it was purchased more and more frequently for the flavor.

The monks have constantly strived for perfection whilst experimenting and looking to improve the elixir. However, the drink still stays true to the original 130 ingredients from the first recipe.

The spirit was last altered in 2010 due to EU regulations that restricted the transportation and aging of alcoholic products with an ABV of higher than 70%. As the Elixir used to be 71%, the monks decided to begin thinning the spirit to 69% to keep it as similar as possible, but also making it available for transport.

Elixir Végétal can be used in many different forms. Adding a few drops into sugar water, or a cup of tea can add a lot of flavor and a new element to your drink. Of course, it’s also possible to experiment with cocktails, as this can work as a substitute for herbal bitters. The elixir is also believed to help alleviate illness and fatigue when mixed with hot water.

69% ABV, Voiron Distillery, France.


It’s a common tradition for the people of the French mountain regions to produce a liquor of the same name as the region itself, with the secret recipes utilizing local herbs and plants.

This is how the monks came about producing their own Génépi, as this is a generic term for a group of plants that grow in this region. Therefore, they altered their production process to ensure that the distillate would take on all characteristics of the génépi herbs to create a unique flavor. This gives the spirit a very sweet flavoring, but also has notes of an herbal bitterness.

This spirit has become quite popular with chartreuse enthusiasts for its individual flavor and great taste. It can be enjoyed neat if well chilled, or on ice.

40% ABV, Voiron Distillery, France.


French speakers might have guessed that this chartreuse was developed specifically as a 900th anniversary special. This was done in order to celebrate the founder of the Carthusian order, Saint Bruno.

The monks spent a lot of time and effort developing and producing this chartreuse, and the result is one of certain quality and expertise. The spirit lands somewhere between the flavors of Chartreuse Verte and Juane – certainly sweeter than Verte, but not quite as sweet as Juane.

To let the flavor develop and mature, the spirit is left to age for extensive periods of time before being bottled. The bottles are individually numbered, making each one unique. The bottle shape is similar to that of the design of the bottles used between 1840 and 1878. This chartreuse can be enjoyed chilled, or on ice.

Tim Master, #Chartreuse Training Video

#Chartreuse discussion from 0:00-0:57

"The allure of an intact antique liquor sample lies in the fact it can provide a clear snapshot into an earlier time," says Ted Breaux, whose research into vintage, pre-ban absinthes from the early 20th century helped create the modern brand Lucid, and make the whole absinthe category legal again. "Certain spirits, like absinthe and Chartreuse, continue to age in the bottle. What we’re tasting today is a little different than what it was a century ago." Besides Lucid, Breaux has created several absinthes through his company, Jade Liqueurs, including the elegant Nouvelle Orleans. More recently, he has set about duplicating some of the dozen originals in his collection, and has produced three reverse-engineered recreations, including a reproduction of the 1890s original Edouard Pernod, a 1901 Absinthe Superieure and a C.F. Berger original Swiss absinthe recipe.

Bars are also getting in on the vintage spirits act, and not only with whisky and cognac. Pouring Ribbons, a new bar in New York’s East Village, boasts an entire page of vintage Chartreuse bottles (both yellow and green) dating back to the 1950s. A single ounce of the strong, funky liqueur can set you back as much as $125. Salvatore Calabrese, a noted London bartender and co-owner of the bar at the Playboy Club London, has made a specialty of crafting cocktails from old booze. He made the news at the beginning of 2012, when a patron accidentally broke a 224-year-old bottle of cognac worth about $77,000.

Ask Men: Old Alcohols- Featuring Chartreuse

The Crippler (for two)


3⁄4 ounce rye whiskey

3⁄4 ounce Rhum JM Gold 3

⁄4 ounce mezcal

3⁄4 ounce Stroh Jagertee (Austrian liqueur made with tea and spices)

1 dash yellow Chartreuse

2 dashes Bitter End Memphis BBQ bitters


Stir ingredients well with ice and strain into two small cocktail glasses.

—From Tad Carducci of the Tippler, New York.

Widow’s Kiss


1 1⁄2 ounces calvados

1⁄2 ounce yellow Chartreuse

1⁄2 ounce Benedictine

Lemon twist


Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

—Adapted from George J. Kap- peler’s “Modern American Drinks” (1895)

In right-size volumes, drinks can be bolder. A spirit-forward classic such as the Widow’s Kiss, made with apple brandy, Chartreuse and Benedictine, is fascinating in small quantities but overpowering when supersized. Tristan Willey, bar manager at Booker & Dax, a nexus of innovative cocktail making that is part of the Manhattan-based Momofuku restaurant group, applies the same principle in his newly minted cocktails. “We have found ourselves working with extremely potent flavors,” he said, “flavors we love, but which we would never want a whole cocktail’s worth of.” One such drink is the Debbie, made with gin, dry vermouth, red-onion-infused gin and a pinch of salt. The combination is so intense, Mr. Willey said, “You only need a few sips before wishing to move on.”

Garden Room Pousse Café


1⁄2 ounce crème de cassis

1⁄2 ounce yellow Chartreuse

1⁄2 ounce Cognac


Pour cassis into the bottom of a small cordial glass. Place the tip of a spoon against the inside of the glass and gently pour over the spoon a layer of Chartreuse. Then, using the same technique, add a layer of Cognac. The layers should be equal and unmixed.

—Adapted from the Garden Room at L.A.’s Town House hotel, circa 1944

If Paula Deen opened a bartending school in the French mountains, the result might be something like this: Hot Buttered Chartreuse. Decadent? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

A few years ago my friend Lance Mayhew introduced me to Hot Buttered Rum, which is exactly what it sounds like. Take rum, add butter, sugar, and spices, mix it with hot water, and you have Hot Buttered Rum. Butter is not a typical cocktail ingredient but don’t be put off by it. Melting butter into a steaming hot drink makes it rich and delicious.

There are countless recipes for Hot Buttered Rum batter and you can buy it pre-mixed in stores, but it’s so easy to make at home that there is no reason to do that. Lance’s “World’s Best Hot Buttered Rum Recipe” lives up to the name and I’ve enjoyed it every year since moving to Portland. Go over to Lance’s site and make a batch.

Lance has made Hot Buttered Rum a Thanksgiving tradition for me, so last weekend I whipped some up at work. A few lines of advice from Lance’s post stood out to me:


- Use a quality rum. I like one with some age on it. I’ll be using Bacardi 8 this Thanksgiving, I don’t think there is a better rum for a Hot Buttered Rum.


- Use cheap rum. Cheap rum is going to taste even cheaper when you warm it up. You can’t hide poor quality ingredients in this drink.

If it’s important to use good spirits, why not go all out and use one of the best spirits in the world? Why not use Chartreuse? Though I’ve mixed Chartreuse in hot chocolate many times, I had no idea if this would be a hot mess or a mug of pure awesomeness. The concept was so tantalizing — Hot. Buttered. Chartreuse. — that I needed to try it out. And after a long shift, I did. Happily, the drink is every bit as good as it sounds.

Making Hot Buttered Chartreuse is simple. All you need is:

1 1/2 oz Chartreuse (green)
1 big dollop Hot Buttered Rum batter, to taste
hot water

Add the batter and some of the hot water to a mug, stirring to dissolve. Then add the Chartreuse and top off with more hot water, giving everything one final stir to combine.

Now, about that dollop. This is no time for moderation. You left moderation behind the moment you decided to drink butter and Chartreuse. Compensate later if you have to, but get the most of out of this experience and don’t hold back on the batter.

About the mug: Be sure to pre-heat it. The mug, the batter, and the spirit are going to lower the temperature of the water. The drink is Hot Buttered Chartreuse, not Tepid Buttered Chartreuse. A mug pre-heated with hot water will keep your drink warmer longer.

Sharing a couple mugs of this with someone you care about it is a great way to warm up on a cold winter night.

via Liquidity Preference

ZZ Top perform Chartreuse live in Montreal.

Green Chartreuse. I call for this sometimes in cocktails, but green Chartreuse is amazing by itself as a digestif, intense and herbaceous. It’s like the Old World in a glass. Expect to pay $48 for a 750-milliliter bottle or $33 for 375 milliliters.
-Deb Lindsey | Washington Post 

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