Chartreuse: Is This What Jesus Would Drink?
|Image via This Girl Can Eat|
|Handcrafted by French monks based upon a secret 400-year-old recipe, chartreuse was originally known as "The Elixir of Life."|
Up first, the strange-but-true story of chartreuse, an iconic (and reportedly hallucinogenic) liqueur handcrafted by French Monks from a 400-year-old recipe.
Originally named "The Elixir of Life," lord only knows exactly what's in chartreuse. And I mean that literally.
For decades, chartreuse was slowly disappearing from bar shelves across America, dismissed as an outdated, oddball liqueur. In fact, most people are more likely to identify chartreuse as a shade out of the Crayola box, rather than an herbaceous spirit that gave name to the color.
That said, along with everything else associated with classic cocktail culture, this monk-made moonshine -- which comes in both yellow and green varieties -- is starting to reappear at local watering holes.
Drink up after the jump.
|Chartreuse Elixir Vegetal Liqueur|
It's still used to this day, although to keep the formula secret, no single person knows the entire recipe. Instead two different monks learn a portion of the process, which is then combined to create a 138 proof spirit known as Chartreuse Elixir Vegetal Liqueur (aka "The Elixer of Life").
The Quest For The Perfect Cocktail
Like many bartenders, Trudy Thomas, the Director of Beverages at the posh JW Marriott Camelback Inn, says she first learned about chartreuse as one of the main ingredients in the old school drink known as the Pousse Café.
Translating to "coffee pusher" or "coffee chaser," this rainbow-like cocktail features layer after layer of brightly-colored booze stacked inside a tall, slender glass. Sipped through a straw, one liver-pummeling layer after another, Thomas says it's a forerunner to more modern layered drinks such as the B-52.
|Often described as better looking than it tastes, the Pousse Café cocktail is made with layer after layer of brightly-colored booze, including both yellow and green chartreuse.|
What To Order
Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz offer two cocktails featuring chartreuse:
Named after the main ingredient, Jamaican ugli fruit (an orange, tangerine and grapefruit hybrid), it's mixed with fresh lemon and muddled basil, and topped with V.E.P. Green Chartreuse.
Bay to Breakers
Inspired by the annual clothing-optional race in San Francisco, it features Hendrick's gin, grapefruit, V.E.P. Green Chartreuse and muddled basil.
|Available by request at the R Bar inside the Camelback Inn, the Last Call is one of the few cocktails created during Prohibition.|
Where To find It
7133 East Stetson Drive in Scottsdale, 480-946-3111, www.cowboyciao.com
Kazimierz World Wine Bar
7137 East Stetson Drive in Scottsdale, 480-946-3004, www.kazbar.net
R Bar at Camelback Inn
5402 East Lincoln Drive in Paradise Valley, 800-242-2635, www.camelbackinn.com