Friday, 3 October 2014

Friday Cocktail: 2 Ways with Green Chartreuse

Today I'm going to give you a beginner's guide to green Chartreuse (a beginner's guide because I'm still a beginner myself!) because I've discovered this little high-strength liqueur is well worth learning about.

So what is Chartreuse?

As I've mentioned, it's a liqueur, but there are some things you should know:

  • It is the only liqueur that is naturally green in colour
  • It is over 400 years old, originating as a form of medicine, and is made by monks in the Chartreuse Mountains, in Grenoble, France.
  • It is a flavoured with a blend of 130 herbs, flowers and spices - but the exact ones are top secret, known only by the two monks who make it.
  • It is a whopping 55% abv.
  • It has a powerful, heady flavour packed full of pungency - and is best served straight over ice, in short cocktails or added to something chocolatey.

There is also a yellow chartreuse, made with a similar combination of herbs, flowers and spices, and also natural in colour - but this is lower in alcohol and sweeter. A sort of 'green chartreuse for wimps'.

Serving suggestions

It's all very well buying a bottle of Chartreuse because you want to see what it's like, but where do you start, cocktail-wise?

There's loads of recipes out there - some more appealing than others - but I thought I'd show you a couple of absolute classics that have stood the test of time to start you off. They're very different - and allow you to experience either a little or a lot of this powerful green booze.

The Last Word cocktail

Probably the most famous green chartreuse cocktail recipe, this is a great one to start with, and there's enough green chartreuse included that you'll really get to experience its myriad of herby, spicy flavours.

Warning: This is a VERY boozy cocktail. You'll probably only want one. But the flavours are incredible - enjoy quality over quantity!

Ingredients (serves one):

  • 25ml gin
  • 25ml maraschino liqueur
  • 25ml green chartreuse
  • 25ml lime juice

Shake it!

1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker (or whatever you can get your hands on - sealable jam jar, whatever) and make sure it's filled with plenty of ice cubes.
2. Shake it like a polaroid picture for about 10 seconds, then pour into a martini glass.
3. Garnish with a wedge of lime, if you like it to look pretty.

Green Chaud

This is apparently a classic on French skiing holidays (I've never been skiing because I'm not middle class enough - but I can imagine finding a mug of this very welcome when you're curling up in a log cabin with a roaring fire after a long day sliding down a mountain.

Ingredients (serves one):

  • 4 tsp high quality hot chocolate powder or drinking chocolate (the more actual chocolate in it, the better)
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 tsp green chartreuse

Shake it!

1. Heat the milk in a microwave or on the hob for about 2 minutes.
2. Put the chocolate powder in your favourite mug, pour the hot milk in on top, and finish with a teaspoon of green chartreuse. You really won't need more than a teaspoon!
3. Garnish with whipped cream and some lime zest if you fancy it. I prefer mine unfancified.

But what about yellow chartreuse? Ah, yes - I'm currently experimenting with that too! Check back next week for some yellow chartreuse goodness...

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