The potent herbaceousness of Chartreuse is every bit as lively as the spirit’s vivid color portends. “Chartreuse is probably the quintessential French alpine herbal liqueur,” says Joaquín Simó, co-founder of New York’s Pouring Ribbons.
With a whopping 130 ingredients, Chartreuse offers unparalleled depth of flavor. “The near-infinite complexity of Chartreuse is what lends itself so well to mixability,” Simó says. “We always joke that it’s like cheating to add Chartreuse to a cocktail, because it’s very difficult to add Chartreuse to something and say, ‘Well this is definitively not better.’”
Chartreuse is available in both Green and Yellow versions. “Yellow is going to be a little softer, it’s bottled at 80 proof,” Simó says, noting that Green clocks in at 110 proof. That said, they are interchangeable in drinks like the Diamondback (see below), where Yellow is the classic choice, but Green can perform well depending on your chosen whiskey.
“If you’re using the aggressively herbaceous and high-proof green, it probably needs something more like Wild Turkey 101, Rittenhouse, or Pikesville in order for it to actually be a fair fight,” Simó suggests, while Old Overholt, at 43% ABV, may work better with yellow chartreuse.
“With so many ingredients in it and so many layers of flavor, it will, even in small amounts, affect a drink very considerably, which is important because it’s not a cheap modifier,” Simó says.
4 classic whisky and chartreuse cocktails
Final Ward: ¾ oz. rye whiskey + ¾ oz. green Chartreuse + ¾ oz. maraschino liqueur + ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into chilled coupe.
Created by Phil Ward, Death & Company, New York
Diamondback: 1½ oz. rye whiskey + ¾ oz. green or yellow Chartreuse + ¾ oz. applejack + Maraschino cherry for garnish
Stir ingredients with ice. Strain into chilled coupe. Garnish with maraschino cherry.
Green Hat: 2 oz. rye whiskey + 1 tsp. green Chartreuse + 1 sugar cube + 2 dashes Angostura bitters + Lemon peel for garnish
Muddle sugar cube and bitters in rocks glass. Add whiskey and large ice cube and stir. Float the Chartreuse atop the drink. Garnish with expressed peeled lemon.
Emerald Old Fashioned: 2 oz. Knappogue Castle 12 year old + 1 tsp. green Chartreuse + 1 tsp. Dolin Génépy des Alpes + 1 tsp. honey syrup* + Mint sprig for garnish
Build in a glass, add ice, and stir briskly until chilled and just combined. Serve in a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with slapped mint sprig.
Created by Joaquin Simó, Pouring Ribbons, New York
*Honey Syrup: 2 parts honey dissolved in 1 part warm water