Chartreuse: The Storied Secret Green Liquor

The other day I had a cocktail called a “last word.” I was blown away by the taste. When I asked the bartender what was in it he told me: gin, chartreuse, and lime. I had never heard of chartreuse so I wanted to taste this green drink separate from the cocktail. I ordered a shot of chartreuse neat. The complexity is evident when you taste it. Chartreuse has a spicy botanical sweetness to it.


I wanted to learn more about this drink, so I went to the library… Hahaha. No I went on Google and it took me to Wikipedia.


Chartreuse is green colored liquor originating from France. The drink dates back to 1605 according to old Carthusian Monastery manuscripts that include the recipe. The original recipe contains over 130 herbs, plants, and flowers. Monks in the Chartreuse Mountains distilled the beverage up until 1793 until they were expelled from their monastery by the French Government.


The monks were able to return in 1838 bringing new techniques to the distillation process allowing for the sweeter yellow chartreuse made with saffron. Again the monks were uprooted in 1903. They fled to Spain and began producing the drink in the province of Tarragona.


At the same time, a group came in and took over the original distillery in the Chartreuse Mountains, and began producing the renown drink, however, they did not have the monk’s recipe so the company went broke by 1927.


A private group came in, bought up the company, and gave it back to the monks.


The monks were able to return to the monastery and  have been making and guarding the secret recipe of chartreuse since.


Next time you’re in a bar and you see a green liquor that has French looking words on it you’ll know what it is, and not look like an ignorant fool.


You have the privilege of learning from my curiosity.


-Sam Hill

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