Liquor in general is a pretty colorful industry and the players involved can be quite fascinating on their own. Chartreuse stands as one of the most fascinating and legendary liquors ever, and I’m really excited to feature it for you. Here is the Chartreuse story:
In 1605, at the Chartreuse monastery in France, the monks received a gift from an agent of the king: an aged manuscript for an “Elixir of Long Life” that was thought to be the work of a 16th century alchemist with a unparalleled knowledge of herbs. This manuscript included detailed instructions for blending, infusing, and macerating 130 herbs to form the perfect tonic.
100 years later, the manuscript was sent into the mountains of the Mother House of the Order of La Grande Chartreuse. The Apothecary of the monastery studied the manuscript in detail and, in 1737, drew up a formula for the actual preparation of the Elixir.
Since 1737, this green liqueur has been made by Chartreuse Monks, who use the money they raise from the liqueur to enable them to dedicate their lives to prayer and meditation. Only two brothers know the Chartreuse recipe at any time.
The most fascinating thing about Chartreuse is that its legends are true, unlike the “deer blood” Jagermeister story or the “fly wings” Fernet Branca legend. The two most common varieties of Chartreuse, both of which will run you about $55, are:
Green Chartreuse (55% alcohol) is the original 1737 green liqueur, made from the 1605 recipe by Chartreuse Monks even today. The color chartreuse is named after this liqueur.
Yellow Chartreuse (40% alcohol) was introduced in the 1800’s and is a milder, sweeter flavor and aroma than it’s older brother.
Here’s a common Yellow Chartreuse cocktail (pictured above):
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1/2 ounce yellow Chartreuse
- 1 dash orange bitters
- stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
- garnish with a lemon peel