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Chartreuse
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Featured Spirits - Liqueurs

a picture of Chartreuse
Chartreuse Distillery
France
110 proof

The story of Chartreuse begins in 1605, when a Marshal of Artillery to French king Henry IV gave to the Carthusian monks (so named after the Chartreuse mountains of their home) a manuscript containing the alchemical formula for an “elixir of long life.” After more than 100 years of study, the “Elixir Végétal” was first produced from a blend of over 130 herbs and plants. This “Elixir Végétal” was later renamed to Chartreuse after the monks that distilled it. Renowned for its vibrant green color, which it supposedly gets from the chlorophyll in the plants from which it is produced, Chartreuse is the only beverage I know of that has a color named after it!

When the French Revolution hit in 1789, the Chartreuse monks (like all religious orders) were forced out of France. Their distillery and their liqueur became property of France, later sold to a company that nearly ran it into the ground. Thankfully, in 1927, a group of businessmen purchased all the shares of the Chartreuse distillery and gifted it back to the Carthusian monks. It is once again distilled by these same monks, who have returned the liqueur to its former glory.

Chartreuse comes in two forms—green and yellow. Green Chartreuse has an incredibly bright herbal and floral nose (mind the alcohol, however). The flavor is sweet and packed with herbs, spices and aromatic flora, with fennel or licorice being perhaps the most noticeable and definable. It is a heavyweight at a whopping 110 proof! The yellow variety is similar, but slightly less intense and sweeter, only clocking in at a more manageable 80 proof. Chartreuse is used in the Widow’s Kiss, Pago Pago, Rainbow Pousse-Cafè, Warday’s Cocktail and The Last Word, to name a few.