Chartreuse – Mystery Among Us

Since the rebirth of absinthe, I’ve been increasingly more interested in liqueurs from way back when. Over the last few days, I’ve also been in search for a cocktail that’s not quite so wintry (as my standard Yellow Chartreuse LiqueurMaker’s, neat) but that’s also not too spring- or summer-oriented, since temperatures here are still on the cold side. My quest brought me to a Chartreuse concoction, and apparently, a history lesson.

According to Colleen Graham on, Chartreuse is one of the oldest and most mysterious spirits available on liquor shelves today. For nearly 400 years, Carthusian monks have been producing this herbal liqueur in the French Alps. Here’s the kicker: only three monks from the order know the secret recipe. In fact, each of the three monks has in his possession a third of the recipe, so that no one man has more power than another, and all three have been sworn to silence. This way, the recipe secret is always kept.

I don’t know of anyone who could keep a secret for that long, except for maybe the masons….

Chartreuse was originally created in 1605 by Peres Chartreux, as the “Elixir of Long Life.” By 1737, the recipe was perfected into a form that is very close to what we drink today. Both Chartreuse Yellow and Green boast a composition of 130 herbs, plants and flowers found in the French Alps, distinguished from each other only by overall flavor and alcohol content.

Now that we know the history of Chartreuse, how about a cocktail to celebrate? Again, I was looking for something as a transition from winter to spring. And so I bring you:

April Showers
1 oz brandy
¼ oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 oz orange juice
Orange peel, for garnish

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel and enjoy!



  • Rot April 15, 2009 @ 7:45pm

    Huge fan of the green chartreuse. Been introducing people to it for years.
    Never tried the yellow.

    Great entry!

  • Hannah April 16, 2009 @ 7:57am

    Thanks Rot! I’m looking forward to trying green chartreuse as well – from what I read, it has a much higher alcohol content than the yellow, so cheers to that!

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