Known as a quick sobriety antidote to some and seen as almost repulsive to others, Chartreuse actually has a deep and proud history.
Originally known as Elixir Végétal de la Grande-Chartreuse, this liqueur has been produced by the brothers of the Carthusian order since 1605. Having endured a tumultuous history, which involved being banished to Spain, they’ve retained a recipe to which only two monks can bear witness at one time, keeping the ingredients and quantities a very closely guarded secret.
The elixir itself was originally destined to promote good health and it contains over 130 plants, herbs, flavours and extracts. It became increasingly popular as it evolved. In the 1830s, the order developed Yellow Chartreuse to appeal to a broader market. Being slightly sweeter and coloured a brilliant yellow, thanks to the addition of saffron, it’s a great alternative for those who can’t quite handle the real deal.
Nowadays, Chartreuse is commonly consumed as a shot, but it has also found its way into some great classic drinks (like the gin-based cocktail The Last Word), delivering some depth of flavour for avid cocktail drinkers.
Like many obscure liqueurs, there’s far more to Chartreuse than meets the eye.