Quick Sips: Green chartreuse tastes like a forest–by design. The flavor is pungent and sweet with signature vegetal, herbal, and some root flavors prevalent throughout.
Uses: The elixir is normally taken straight or louched with water. However, there are plenty of cocktails employing the preternatural potable such as the classic Bijou.
Backstory: The creation of Chartreuse is steeped in legend. According to the mythology, the monks of the Grande Chartreuse Monastery were given a formula for a secret elixir to preserve life around 1605. “Basically because they were monks and not a corporation. So, they developed the formula for over a century before it was bottled and sold,” explained Kirk Estopinal of New Orleans’ CureCo. “Initially, they sold only ‘Elixir Végétal de la Grande Chartreuse’ which was taken medicinally daily.”
That recipe still remains a secret, but is widely believed to contain 130 different herbs. Estopinal explained that the tastes are local to the creators. “Basically, you’re drinking the essence of the forest around monastery. The old way of thinking is you find a plant with benefits and then use alcohol to preserve its essence forever,” Estopinal explained.
Vintage chartreuse is a treat. The recipe has never been written down and each monk makes it slightly differently than the last meaning no two years are exactly the same.
The folklore holds that Chartreuse is prepared in three separate portions and then mixed. The monks reportedly only know how to make their part. What is certain is that the recipe remains a highly guarded secret over 400 years later.