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Monthly ArchiveApril 2017

Liqueur-Yellow-Chartreuse

Yellow Chartreuse: History and Review

Ah, Yellow Chartreuse, my lover in the night. Not as strong as your older brother, Green Chartreuse, but still strong, yet sweet; and honey notes for charm. Traditionally a herbal liqueur, Yellow Chartreuse will continue to be a best friend to the cocktail world.

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My rating for Yellow Chartreuse is a 9/10

I’d suggest you buy a bottling of Yellow Chartreuse. Here’s what Your Taste “Bud” found out.

Summary

Chartreuse is an aromatic liqueur, originally made by French Carthusian monks. It is made from a mixture of 130 different herbs and is aged in oak barrels. Chartreuse come in two varieties, green and yellow. They are HERBACEOUS, baby! Yeah, I’m loving that word. Remember it.

Green Chartreuse gets its green color from the addition of chlorophyll. It is higher proof, drier and spicier than the yellow variant.

Yellow Chartreuse is made with the addition of honey and is colored pale yellow with saffron. It is lighter and sweeter in flavor and is lower proof than the green variant.

Classic cocktails usually call for yellow Chartreuse, while the green version is more popular nowadays.

What’s Yellow Chartreuse

I’ll let the Carthusian Monks set this straight:

YELLOW CHARTREUSE 40% alcohol (80° proof US)

Milder and sweeter than the famous Green Chartreuse, Yellow Chartreuse was introduced to the world in 1838. It also is presented in the traditional Chartreuse liqueur bottle embossed with the seal of La Grande Chartreuse. Its color is entirely natural with no artificial flavors or preservatives. It, too, can be enjoyed neat or in a long drink.
Only two Chartreuse monks know the identity of the 130 plants, how to blend them and how to distill them into this world famous liqueur. They are also the only ones who know which plants they have to macerate to produce the natural green and yellow colors. And they alone supervise the slow aging in oak casks.

  • Ingredients: alcohol, sugar, 130 plants and flowers.
  • Alcohol content: 40% (80° proof US)
  • Presentation: Packaged in a traditional Chartreuse liqueur bottle. Very elegant with the embossed seal of La Grande Chartreuse.
  • How to drink it: To bring out all its flavor, it should be consumed very cold, even on the rocks. Traditionally considered an after dinner drink, Chartreuse is more and more being enjoyed as a long drink.

Another spirit with a secret. The French and the rest of the world love this drink. And so do I.

History

Chartreuse has a fun history. If you grab the bottle, it’ll give you a fast little history lesson. Something along the lines of “Chartreuse is an aromatic liqueur, originally made by French Carthusian monks. It is made from a mixture of 130 different herbs and is aged in oak barrels. Chartreuse comes in two varieties, green and yellow.”

Okay, but what does that mean?

400 years ago, in 1605, the Order of Chartreuse (a monastery in Vauvert, which is a small suburb about three hours away from central Paris) received a gift from Francois Hannibal d’ Estrées, Marshal of King’s Henri IV artillery. The Order of Chartreuse, made of monks living at the monastery, were given a manuscript called the elixir, or as it came to be known, “Elixir of Long Life.”

The origins of the manuscript are unknown but many suspect that it was most likely made by a 16th-century alchemist with a great knowledge of herbalism and the skills to blend, infuse, and macerate the herbs. The “Elixir of Long Life” is a complex recipe of 130 herbs, plants, and spices which are blended together to create a tonic. This tonic would become Chartreuse – after years of attempting to solve the enigma.

Although these monks had this manuscript, Herbalism was still in its early stages and as a result, the monks could only understand bits and pieces of the manuscript. Only parts of the elixir were used at the monastery in Vauvert. Until 100 years later, when the Order of Chartreuse handed the manuscript over to their superiors of the order, La Grande Chartreuse.

An Apothecary, named Frère Jerome Maubec, began serious in-depth work on the manuscript to unlock its full potential. Finally, in 1737, he was able to decipher the recipe and shaped it into a workable formula that the monks could use.

In the mountains near Grenoble, where La Grande Chartreuse resides, the preparation for the Elixir of Long Life began. This elixir was named “Elixir Vegetal de la Grande-Chartreuse”. It was called a “Liqueur of Health” with a whopping 69% abv, 138 proof. It contains all natural plants, herbs, and other botanicals suspended in wine alcohol – this elixir is still made and imbibed by the Carthusian Monks today.

Frère Charles(or Friar Charlie) was appointed the task of distribution and the sale of this early Chartreuse. The monk of Le Grande Chartreuse had limited sales, as he had to travel by mule to deliver small bottles to nearby villages.

Not surprisingly, the elixir was more often taken as a beverage than a medicine. The monks noticed this immediately and began to adapt the Elixir recipe.

In 1764, as we know it today, the monks created “Green Chartreuse” – it was a much milder version than the Elixir Vegetal de la Grande-Chartreuse, distilled at 55% alcohol, 110 proof. The road to success happened immediately and Green Chartreuse’s fame spread far beyond the monks’ vicinity. Herbaceous, baby, yeah!

Unfortunately, after a few decades, everything started to go downhill for the monks. In 1789, the French Revolution erupted and resulted in all Religious Orders being ordered out of France. In 1793, the Carthusian monks left their country. There was only one copy of the recipe made and it was held by one of the monks who remained at the monastery. Another monk, who held the recipe, tried to leave the country but was arrested and sent to a prison in Bordeaux.

The recipe was fortunately smuggled out with Dom Basile Nantas. He ended up selling the recipe to a pharmacist in Grenoble. This pharmacist did not end up concocting the recipe because Emperor Napoleon had it confiscated (Napoleon ordered all the “secret” recipes of medicines to be sent to the Ministry of the Interior, Monsieur Liotard). Fortunately, the “secret” recipe was refused and sent back to the pharmacist. When the pharmacist died, his heirs gave the recipe back to the Carthusian monks, who had returned to their monastery in 1816.

20 years later, in 1838, Yellow Chartreuse was created. The new recipe was a sweeter form of Chartreuse at 40% abv, 80 proof.

But once again, in 1903, things went sour. France nationalized the Chartreuse distillery and its trademark “Chartreuse” was sold to a company, that went bankrupt in 1929.

Luckily, the shares were bought by friends of the Carthusian monks; Chartreuse had returned home to the monks.

Today, as you know it, Chartreuse and the “Elixir of Long Life”, is still being made by Carthusian monks. YOU JUST CAN’T KILL THESE GUYS OFF – must be the elixir… One of the most heavily guarded secret and for good reason: The drinker can taste Chartreuse’s rich history from start to finish in every bottling.

My Take

As I boast throughout the post, I love Yellow Chartreuse. Everybody’s taste is definitely subjective and I can’t get over this herbal liqueur. And after researching Chartreuse, I like the products even more now.

I randomly stumbled upon Green Chartreuse and there has been many a night with Chartreuse on the rocks. Trust me.

As for Yellow Chartreuse and its use in cocktails… This is a very versatile product and it plays well with others, sometimes being the dominant flavor and at other times, playing a strong side character. This herbaceous liqueur is an ingredient that I won’t ever get tired of playing with.

As for shots, these guys are great. Green Chartreuse burns a lot more (I do enjoy them as well as Yellow) and two shots will keep you feeling alright.

A wonderful cocktail ingredient. Pairs well with a variety of spirits. Do you want to mix Yellow Chartreuse? Well, you should.

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CHARTREUSE ON THE ROCKS

on_the_rocks

INGRÉDIENTS

  • Yellow Chartreuse
  • Ice cubes

RECETTE

In a tasting glass:

  • Yellow Chartreuse
  • Ice cubes to taste

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More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Fernet Branca

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

• • •

Yellowknife-cocktail

“The Yellowknife Rescue” Cocktail (Guest Post)

Photo by @Sharayahphotography

Check her out at instagram.com/sharayahphotography

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This was a really fun post to do. My good pal, and aviation pilot extraordinaire – Mr. Robin Robertson – and I got together to fool around with his original cocktail, The Yellowknife Rescue.

We started to play around with the drink – and got a little tipsy during the process – until we arrived at the finished product!

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Interview

Okay, this is a really cool name. What’s the story behind this cocktail?

Robin RobertsonWhile they lived up north, my parents dabbled in hunting caribou. And this one time, my dad was out with his buddies. Most sleds up north are less than 250cc, and that makes for a nice lightweight hunting machine. So him and two buddies, let’s call them Al and Steve, are headed out. Al is a longtime local and knows the use of a small snow machine. Steve, not so much. He has this beast with more weight on it than is normally suggested. They head out, and since Steve has more power, he suggests he’ll break off and scout ahead.

Anyways, my dad and Al find themselves a ledge and a herd of caribou. They lay down to set up their shots, and just then my dad looks over his shoulder.

Now, the Canadian arctic is a barren place, so a pillar of smoke rising from the horizon is less than normal. My dad shakes Al, so as to ask what it means, and Al simply responds with “oh fuck, Steve.”

They set off immediately, and after a few rises come across a very rare sight. A single tree, about a meter high, sits there next to a lake. It is thoroughly aflame.
And there’s Steve, his snowmobile half-sunk, jerry can of gas in his hand, and the only tree for five miles burning like a pyre. He’s a geologist, and he knew his only option to dry off was to light that little tree.
What inspired you to make this cocktail?

Robin RobertsonMy inspiration for the egg white and smoked glassware was, of course, the burning tree in the snow, the Gin just seemed appropriate as the liquor to accompany it.

As for the citrus… you recommended it, but let’s just say it was inspired by a yellow jerry can.
Thanks, Robin! I’m going to take over here. Here are the ingredients and the recipe:

Aviation gin 2 oz. | Egg White | Fresh Lemon Juice 3/4 oz. | Simple Syrup 3/4 oz. | Yellow Chartreuse 1/4 oz. |  Smoke the glass with Pine Needles | Garnish with Flamed Pine Needles

Combine all ingredients in a Shaker tin with ice and shake | Strain out into other tin, dump out ice and “Dry Shake” again. Strain into a coupe glass or rocks glass.

Process/Trial-&-Error

Robin had the general idea of the cocktail that he wanted to make, paired with the story that he wanted to tell. All I did was help him fine-tune the cocktail by getting the proper (and fresh) ingredients and adding something to give the Drink character! The Yellow Chartreuse felt like the perfect calling for this drink, especially for the drink’s namesake.

I tried experimenting by dashing in a few colorful bitters into the drink and it did not look that appealing (See below).

Enjoy the Yellowknife Rescue, courtesy of Robin Robertson and Joseph Plant.

Cocktail-Yellowknife-rescue

This was the first tasty mistake we had!

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More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Fernet Branca

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

• • •

Liqueur-Fernet-Branca

Fernet Branca

Looking for a digestif that’s perfect for imbibing after a hardy meal? Try this Bitter Italian Amaro, whether after a romantic meal, during a celebration with friends or while you take in a perfect sunset.

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My rating for Fernet Branca is a 7.5/10

I’d suggest you buy a bottling of Fernet Branca. Here’s what Your Taste “Bud” found out.

Summary

Fernet Branca has been in the business since 1845. They’ve been slowly crafting and perfecting this bitter liqueur. It’s perfect for shooting and can be a great mixer.

Fernet is an Italian digestive, and she is quite bitter. I’d suggest all you Negroni drinkers out there to add a few drops of this into your cocktail.

What’s Fernet

Let’s break it down quickly for you:

  1. Ingredients: Alcohol, unique blend of selected blossoms, aromatic herbs, and flowers.
  2.    Alcohol content: 39% (78° proof US)
  3. Presentation: Packaged in a traditional Fernet-Branca liqueur bottle. Very sleek with the embossed seal of Branca.
  4. How to drink it: Drink straight, on the rocks, or with a splash of mineral water. It is a wonderful bitter mixer. Traditionally considered an after dinner drink.

Straight from the guru’s themselves:

  • “It’s decisive tone is derived from the unique taste of its individual ingredients which results in an undeniable rich bitter that finishes with a delicately spiced aftertaste.
    Proudly bitter since its inception in 1845, Fernet-Branca has been produced according to the original recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation and continues to be the true Italian Bitter, truly the one and only Fernet.
  • “Fernet-Branca isn’t only a digestive bitter, it’s a true legend. With 27 herbs, roots and spices, it’s formula is one of the world’s best-kept secrets, so tightly kept, that since its origin even those who collect the spices do not know the exact quantities needed. Today, the only custodian of the Fernet-Branca secret formula is the President, Niccolò Branca, who personally measures out the spices during the production process. The recipe is the true pride of Fernet-Branca and demonstrates how a century-plus tradition and know-how are the secret to its success. When you choose Fernet-Branca, you embark on a journey of the discovery of places, scents, and flavors. It is the awareness of the superiority of its strong, intense and unique taste.”

So, we really don’t know what Fernet is. Essentially, it is a digestive, and the Italians are very proud of it. GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME.

History

Here is a history of Fernet, via The Straight Up

You gotta check out The Straight up blog as they are doing incredible things!

Fernet-Branca was invented in 1845 by bernardino branca in Milan. Another story claims that a woman named Maria Scala invented the amaro and later married into the Branca family, adopting the family’s name for her creation. However, it is more likely that while Scala did marry into the family, it was after Fernets creation by Bernardino. Regardless of who made it, Fernet-Branca was a hit, and in no time, was being distributed throughout Italy.

Fernet typically refers to the original, but it is also used with other Fernet-Branca like spirits, such as Luxardo Fernet or Fernet Cinzano, which represent their respective companies forays into this flavor profile.

You may be wondering were the “fernet” comes into Fernet-Branca. Shortly after it hit store shelves, a Dr. Fernet Svedese began publishing papers in scientific journals toting the many health benefits of Fernet-Branca. Branca’s creation was the cure for almost any ailment you could think of, from headaches to menstrual pains, to fever, even claiming his family lived into their 100s thanks to Fernet-Branca. Naturally, this built a lot of hype around the spirit. Not to be left behind on this wondrous concoction, other doctors began recommending Fernet to their patients.

Eventually it was discovered that Dr. Fernet, and his healthy old family, were nothing more than a fictitious, marketing ploy by Branca; however, the health claims continued to entrance customers with this bitter amaro. The word Fernet is actually said to have been made up by the Branca family.

The company’s success continued and by 1907, the Brancas began expanding worldwide, including the United States and Argentina. In fact in terms of consumption, Italy, Argentina and the US are the biggest consumers of Fernet-Branca worldwide.

Fernet3

In argentina, Fernet-Branca has become so celebrated, many consider it an official spirit. Argentina was populated by many Italian immigrants who brought Fernet-Branca with them in the late 1800s. Other boosts to its popularity in Argentina came from further Italian immigration during the world wars as well as from college students in the 1980s, during the Falklands War. This war was between the British and Argentinians over control of the Falklands islands off the coast of Argentina. During this conflict, many students boycotted British whiskeys, instead choosing Fernet because they felt it a national beverage. In contrast to the older  generation, who typically enjoyed their Fernet-Branca neat, this younger generation preferred it with Coca-cola, spurring the intensely popular fernet and coke. Currently, Argentina is the only country outside of Italy where Fernet-Branca is produced.

The eagle logo was created by Leopoldo Metlicovitz in 1895. It first appeared in Branca calendars but eventually became the company’s official logo.

In America, Fernet is also hugely popular, particularly in San Francisco. On a recent visit, literally every liquor store I passed had a bottle in clear view of the window. People drank it everywhere. In contrast to Argentina’s Fernet and Coke, San Francisco like to chase shots of fernet with ginger ale.

So what led to its popularity in the states? Chalk this one up to one of the only pluses of prohibition. Due to its many purported health benefits, Fernet-Branca was one of the few spirits still sold in US pharmacies during prohibition. People grew to love their Fernet and this carried through the repeal of Prohibition, particularly in San Francisco, where North Beach and its many Italian immigrants helped make Fernet-Branca a citywide staple.

My Take

Personally, I like Fernet because it’s very bitter, yet refreshing… they also have such a cool site. Fernet Branca‘s site can take awhile to load, but the graphics are well worth it. It’s also in Italian, but there is obvi an option to choose English.

As I said before, Fernet is the perfect shooter. I got a bottle for some friends and myself last weekend. My good friend, Trent, who complains often, said it tasted like cough syrup. He still slurped it down. My other friend, Sean, has acquired a taste for bitterness and so he liked it. He said, “Knowing that there are tons of herbs in this, I feel that it would be okay to do multiple shots of these.” It isn’t that healthy, but it tastes damn good.

Shots aren’t the only use Fernet has. It is also a good cocktail ingredient. It pairs well with a variety of spirits. Wanna mix Fernet?

Let’s take a look at the Brandy Manhattan, courtesy of Fernet Branca. If you want to know How To Make A Perfect Manhattan, check last week’s post.

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Brandy Manhattan

Recipe

2 oz. of Stravecchio Branca (Instead of Whisky)
1 oz. Carpano Antica Formula (DA best Vermouth)
A couple drops of Fernet-Branca (No Angostura? Cool)

Preparation

Pour all the ingredients into a mixing glass, stir for a few seconds, then pour the mixture into a glass, filtering out the ice.

Garnish: Orange peel and a Cocktail Cherry

• • •

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If you’re into everything cocktail, sign up for the Curious Cocktailian Email List and we’ll send you the new posts right when they come out. That’s the only thing we use the list for – Don’t worry about getting tons of spam or other nonsense!

• • •

More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

• • •