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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Chartreuse is an aromatic liqueur, originally made by French Carthusian monks.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

• • •

Shaken Jamaican Create cocktails Cocktail

The “Shaken Jamaican” Cocktail

Recipe

Plantation Jamaican Rum 2 oz. | Overproof Rum – a splash | Yellow Chartreuse 3/4 oz. | Grenadine 1/2 oz. | Orgeade 1/2 oz. | Lime Juice 1 1/4 oz. | Creme de Violette – Splash or teaspoon | Jamaican #1 bitters 3 dashes

How-To

Pour in Ingredients / Fill with ice / Shake like crazy / Double-strain into a martini glass

Cocktail Cosmopolitan Shaken Jamaican

Story

Caution: this story is filled with many woes.

I started at a very easy place. I looked at one cocktail recipe that I was inspired by and loved: The Daiquiri. Eventually, I also looked at the Mai Tai, because I love my tiki drinks.

So, right off the bat, I kind of knew what I wanted.

Two things happened next: I decided which spirit I’d used and a few ingredients I wanted to mix the drink with AND I got an idea from a brilliant bartender I work with (We’ll call him Mr. Savage).

I knew the drink was going to be rum-based because the Daiquiri and the Mai-Tai are rum-based. I also knew that Orgeade/Orgeat was going to play a part, as it does in most tiki/tropical drinks.

Lime juice had to make an appearance, for dem citrus notes. And lastly, yellow chartreuse, which oddly does wonders with rum (Courtesy of Mr. Savage).

Now, Mr. Savage filled his highball glass with crushed ice and sprinkled the top with Peychaud’s bitters. I took that idea and one of my own and compared:

Cocktails experimental

The left is akin to Mr. Savage’s drink, and the right is mine. I used grenadine, instead of the Peychaud’s bitters, seen on left. Unfortunately, and predictably, the grenadine sank to the bottom.

I wanted to have three layers: yellow on the bottom (shaken part of the drink), Peychauds, or Grenadine (which, as you can see, did not work out), and a purple layer – Creme de Violette – on top.

This part of the process was a disaster and just did not go as planned. I was disheartened and felt defeated – especially because I had lied in bed at 4 in the morning imagining how brilliant this cocktail would be.

The next day, I wrote the story of the cocktail, which was named, “The Sun Also Sets”:

This is “The Sun Also Sets”. Firstly, the cocktail pays homage to Ernest Hemingway and his first book, The Sun Also Rises, and secondly, is visually appealing and quenches any person’s thirst. This cocktail is the tongue-in-cheek answer to Hem’s masterpiece.

Pretty fun, right? I was really into it. 🙁

Anyways, after some time, I was just like, “Screw it. Let’s shake em’ up altogether.”

So, I had the rum, yellow chartreuse, lime, orgeade, and the Creme de Violette (for oomph), and slammed em’ together. The result was incredible.

Cocktail beautiful Martini glass

After a few more tweaks, I had the style of rum, Jamaican #1 bitters and the exact measurements I wanted and needed.

My drink, the Shaken Jamaican, was finally ready to be consumed.

Choosing Ingredients And Measurements

So, as you know, I had my basic ingredients from the two recipes…

The Daiquiri and the Mai-Tai… which were Rum, Lime, and Orgeade/Orgeat.

I also had the idea of using Yellow Chartreuse and Peychauds bitters from Mr. Savage.

After some frustrating variation tests, I decided to use grenadine as a sweetener, instead of the bitter Peychauds.

It still wasn’t enough. It needed some EXCITEMENT. Fate led me to Creme de Violette.

After the failed “The Sun Also Sets” experiment, I shook everything together, and I shook them hard.

Once I had nailed down my basic recipe, I was ready to start fine-tuning.

Fine-tuning 

This part is essential. Once you reach this stage, you can’t give up and just throw together whatever portions.

The exact opposite needs to be done: this drink requires your obsessive tendencies to reach perfection!

And this is exactly what I did.

I found the perfect kind of rum: Plantation Jamaican Rum (I was using Plantation Pineapple – so good).

Then I added Jamaican #1 Bitters, which paired really well with the Jamaican rum. (It has allspice, ginger, and black pepper notes. Mhm).

To get the exact measurements was challenging.

What the bartender is trying to accomplish is making a cocktail that can be deemed delicious by enthusiasts, connoisseurs, and regular ol’ beer-drinkers. The bartender is also trying to find balance.

First, I sought balance. I balanced the citrus to the sweetness. When I felt that was right…

Second, I had taste-testings. I had bartender buddies try them, for their expertise. I had my dad try one, for his, ahem, beer-drinking expertise.

I made one for my girlfriend, who is not a drinker and offered a unique perspective. Finally, I made some for two of my friends who like drinking all kinds of things.

I took all of their suggestions and altered my measurements yet again – until I was happy.

Taste is so subjective. Not one person tastes the exact same. So, making drinks that everybody will love is hard. And unfortunately, it isn’t going to please everyone.

But I feel pretty damn confident that this drink is going to be (mostly) loved.

Make It

If you don’t know what kind of tools to make, check my other post on bar tools.

Let me walk you through this little doozy. Here, hold my hand.

Cocktail-process

Yeah, I made a fancy picture for this blog post.

First, we pour all of our ingredients (with the help of our jiggs) into a mixing glass or a smaller Boston-tin. Then we fill that mixing glass two-thirds full with fresh ice/the smaller Boston-tin to the top.

Then, I shake everything up – to dilute the cocktail a bit and to cool it down.

I double-strain that sum-na-beech into a chilled martini glass:

Cocktail-bartender-strain-straining-cocktail-hawthorn-strainer-double-strain

Double-straining that sum-na-beech

Finally, I drink the hell out of it.

Naming the Cocktail 

I had a particularly difficult time naming this cocktail, especially since it used to be a layered drink:

Cocktail-sun-also-sets-hemingway

This drink, which is now the “Shaken Jamaican”, used to be called “The Sun Also Sets” because it looked like a sunset (I wanted to layer the purple Creme De Violette on top of the red, but it didn’t work out).  I decided to forgo the layering of the red grenadine/Peychauds on top of the drink and to instead mix up the ingredients. The conclusion was satisfying, to say the least.

I decided to forgo the layering of the red grenadine/Peychauds on top of the drink and to instead mix up the ingredients. The conclusion was satisfying, to say the least.

So, now I had a new drink with a name that didn’t fit.

I loved all of the other tiki drinks, like the Bahama Mama, Mai Tai, in that they had great rhymes and were all super tasty and palatable. I wanted the same thing for my drink.

Here’s a short list of other potential names…

-Destination Jamaica

-Jamaican Destination

-The Flaming Joe

They were pretty depressing names and my unoriginality made me give up for awhile. Then the name just came to me.

I’m sure you guys are going to have a ton of questions. I don’t mind answering them – leave a comment below, or email me if you’d like!

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Glad You Could Join[themify_icon icon=”fa-glass” link=”http://curiouscocktailian.com” style=”Large”]

• • •

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:

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

• • •