Advanced Anderson Valley knowledge last week from Michael Markarian, Slim Mello, Sean Dowling, Daniel Veit and Jeremy Eubanks. Thanks all!
This week: Chartreuse
Tell us a story. How many different bottlings do they have?
Chartreuse is based on an ancient recipe in a manuscript received by the Carthusian monks in 1605, but not deciphered by the monastery’s apothecary and finally made into a powerful elixir until 1737. The original concoction of 130 plants, herbs, and botanicals was used for health and was stronger than we see today - about 69% abv.
Today, Green Chartreuse is 55% abv and has a strong, spicy, herbal flavor. Yellow Chartreuse is softer and milder, with less alcohol and a bit more sweetness, at 40% abv. They also make V.E.P. versions of Yellow and Green Chartreuse with extra long aging in oak casks.
Of course it is consumed on its own and used as a digestif but also very important in cocktails, with Green Chartreuse an ingredient of the Champs Elysees, Last Word, and Tipperary, and the softer Yellow Chartreuse used for the Widow’s Kiss and the Naked and Famous.
“The only liquor so good they named a color after it!” — Warren the bartender (Quentin Tarantino) in Death Proof
Michael nailed the details. Monks, secrets, and power struggles lead to be a pretty mythical beverage.
Other bottlings:Elixir Vegetal de la Grande-Chartreuse served in a dropper bottle nested in a wooden box. At about 70% ABV and some serious concentration, a few drops are great in a bottle of sparkling water.
Cuvee des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Sommeliers was a limited edition bottling in 2007 for the wine nerds. It was yellow and delicious. Juan Fernando Cortes and I finished off a bottle with Geddy Lee a few years ago.
Cannon in Seattle (and a bunch of cool bars in France and Spain) have examples of a wide range of rare and vintage Chartreuse bottlings, including the years produced in Catalonia ( Liqueur fabriquée à Tarragone par les Pères Chartreux) when the monks were expelled from France in the early 20th century.