Everyone has seen it– the beautiful green liquor in the small bottle glistening on the back bars of nearly every fine restaurant in the world. What is it?
Green Chartreuse VEP
Originally this was to be an article about hot chocolate, but after asking for advice from some of the best bartenders in Portland Oregon, a recurring recipe emerged: Hot Chocolate with Green Chartreuse. Nothing fancy or
complicated, just hot chocolate, Chartreuse, whipped cream and
perhaps a garnish. This led to a curiosity about the liqueur itself. I had always known of it and had even, on rare occasions, had a shot of it, but I knew little else. Chartreuse is a French liqueur made by Carthusian Monks since the 1740’s. The liqueur’s name comes from the Chartreuse Mountains in the Grenoble region of France. Chartreuse has become so recognizable throughout the world, it even has a color named after it!
Green Chartreuse is a naturally colored alcohol that gets its color from the chlorophyll from some of the 130-plus different plant extracts it is flavored with. While most alcohol loses character after it is opened and exposed to air, Green Chartreuse actually benefits from aging. If you have had a bottle kicking around since the beginning of time, don’t fret, it is perfectly fine. Now is a great time to revisit it and use it!
Chartreuse was first noted when an envoy of King Henry IV presented an alchemical manuscript to the Carthusian Monks that contained a recipe for an “elixir of long life” in 1605. The recipe eventually reached the Grande Chartreuse monastery and was originally used as a medicine. The recipe in its current form was developed around 1740 and mass production ensued. It is a proprietary secret known only to the two monks who are in charge of production. Although many attempts have been made to copy Green Chartreuse, nothing has ever come close to the complexity and depth of this great cordial.
Green Chartreuse and it’s milder, sweeter sister Yellow Chartreuse (colored with Saffron), can be found at most Liquor stores in the country, and while not inexpensive (around 25-30 dollars for a half bottle), you may want to pick up a bottle for the trailer and surprise your friends on their next visit - it’s definetly worth it!
Hey, this can still be about hot chocolate after all…hot chocolate with style!
Hot Chocolate Recipe
David Briggs, owner and founder of Xocolatl de David in Portland, Oregon (www.xocolatldedavid.com)
Makes one 8 oz serving
- 1 Teaspoon Cocoa Powder (either natural or dutch process)
- 1 Teaspoon Sugar*
- 6 oz Milk (whole milk is best, but any percentage will do)
- 2 Heaping Tablespoons of Dark Chocolate (70% or higher), chopped/ shaved/grated pinch of fleur de sel
Combine the milk, sugar and cocoa powder in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Whisk the mixture every minute or so while it is heating.
Right before the milk comes to a boil turn off the heat, add the chocolate, and whisk vigorously to combine. If you have an immersion/stick blender that will work well too. Finish with a tiny pinch of sea salt.
*The sugar can be reduced, or omitted entirely, for a less sweet version
Hot Chocolate with Green Chartreuse
Tim Davey, Bar Manager at Spirit of 77 – Portland
Evan Zimmerman, Bar Manager at Laurelhurst Market – Portland
- ¾ oz. Green Chartreuse
- 12 oz Hot chocolate
- Freshly whipped cream
Mix together Chartreuse and hot chocolate and top with a dollop of whipped cream.
Optional Garnish: Shaved white chocolate and a pinch of piment d’esplette
Here is another delicious recipe from Tim Davey’s bag of tricks:
Hot Cherry Chocolate
- 1 oz. bourbon
- ½ oz Cherry Heering
- 10 oz. Hot Chocolate
- 2 dashes Bitterman Xocolatl Mole Bitters
- freshly whipped cream
Mix it up and top with cream!