I first fell in love with Chartreuse just a couple of months ago. I now enjoy a very small cordial after each rich meal. There’s really nothing like Chartreuse. Find the geekiest wine and spirits lover and challenge them to identify flavors within this alluring elixir, and they’ll be stumped.
At any given time, only two Carthusian monks—of the contemplative order of monks that reside alongside the Chartreuse Mountains of France, in the ancient Chartreuse Monastery—know one portion of the secret, trade-protected recipe. When one of these monks dies, another is left to carry on the tradition but is, again, given only one portion of the recipe. These monks have been making Charteuse from the same recipe since 1605, and though they give credit to unnamed plants for this drink’s beauty, it is also widely believed that other unnamed, secret ingredients comprise this sublime beverage.
Chartreuse is made of 130 plants, using a base of wine alcohol. They are macerated and distilled into a liqueur. The ingredients include only naturally occurring sugars, the inherent attributes of 130 different plants, and chlorophyll, which occurs naturally, and gives this drink its hypnotic color. In fact, everyone’s favorite flourescent color, chartreuse, was named for the beverage. Although it can also be yellow, the most popular form of Chartreuse is green. This sexy, heady beverage is a beverage of temperance. Like the racier and more unpredictable Absinthe, Chartreuse is best enjoyed in small, measured sips. The effects on the palate and being though, when enjoyed gradually and reasonably, can be quiet electric.
Alcohol content: 55% (110 Proof in U.S.)
Availability: www.chartreuse.fr and in select fine spirits retailers.
Recommended: Serve 1 or 2 ounces on ice as the perfect after dinner cordial or digestivo. There are numerous cocktails that have been created using this strong, yet elusively delicate liqueur. I think it’s a shame to hide the mysterious flavors so abundant is this green siren. It’s best consumed on its own.