When I went to college I decided to build a bar in the basement of the house I was living in. My Dad said if I built the bar, he'd stock it. The bar was built in record time and he provided 10 or 12 bottles of liquor. One bottle was Green Chartreuse.
Even at this early time in my drinking journey when I was still hooked on Amaretto sours and other sweet, non-threatening drinks, I got hooked on Green Chartreuse. The best thing was nobody else in our circle of friends had ever heard of it, so I got many shocked/surprised/wincing expressions when I let someone try it. Oh, and Hunter S. Thompson was a big fan of the stuff (that always moves it up in my estimation).
Green Chartreuse is a 110 proof herbal liqueur made by French Carthusian monks. It is made from over 130 different herbs and flowers that grow in the French Alps. Green Chartreuse was perfected and first offered publicly in the middle 1700's and is one of a very few liqueurs whose name is now the name of a color, chartreuse green.
The monks have faced a tough history, being expelled from France on two occasions since they started making Chartreuse (what were the French thinking?!?). But they have soldiered on and now produce their famous liqueur in Voiron, France.
The recipe is a secret supposedly known only to a few monks and (supposedly again) each monk only knows part of the recipe. I'm guessing the full recipe is in several safes because otherwise if one guy can gets hit by a bus you lose your almost 400 year old liqueur.
The initial process to make Chartreuse is similar to gin - flavoring ingredients are steeped in neutral spirits before being distilled a second time. Then departing from the gin method, this infused spirit is aged in oak. Along the way sugar is added along with chlorophyll which produces the wonderful green color.
Green Chartreuse cocktails
The flavor of Green Chartreuse commands your attention. It is sweet, fiery and spicy with many layers of herbal flavors and a long finish. Think of it as stronger and more vegetal Jagermeister though with a much more fancy pants reputation.
Green Chartreuse can be served neat as a digestif (either room temperature or chilled). I find it really does help settle a meal taken like this. There are also quite a few cocktails that use Green Chartreuse which pairs nicely as the sweetener for lime juice. The Last Word is one of my favorite Green Chartreuse cocktails.
Do you have a favorite cocktail using this liqueur? Let us know in the comments below..