If you have a bottle of Chartreuse that languishes on the shelf, we’ve got a recipe that’s so charming and delicious, it’s reason enough to call friends over for a cocktail hour.
The recipe was created as part of The Plaza Hotel’s spring celebration of the new Baz Luhrman film, “The Great Gatsby,” based on the F. Scott Fizgerald novel. The Plaza Hotel is featured in a the novel and the film.*
The sixth film version of The Great Gatsby stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan. It opens in theaters on May 10, 2013.
But there’s no reason to wait until then to enjoy the cocktail. Start mixing!
> What is Chartreuse? The history of the liqueur is below.
> National Chartreuse Day is May 16th. National Liqueur Day is October 16th.
It couldn’t be easier to make this simple-yet-elegant cocktail. The recipe was crafted for the occasion by mixologist Jim Meehan.
Ingredients Per Drink
*On an oppressively hot afternoon, Jay Gatsby, Tom and Daisy Buchanan and Nick Carraway decide to drive into the city and take a suite at the Plaza Hotel.
1. SOAK the sugar cube in the Chartreuse.
2. POUR Champagne into a flute or wine glass and add the sugar cube.
2. GARNISH with a spiral lime twist.
If you can get to the Plaza Hotel, there’s much more to enjoy after the cocktail.
The Plaza is celebrating spring Roaring ‘20s-style, with period-inspired food and drink throughout its lounges and restaurants; guests can drink and dine like Gatsby.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age novel, was originally published by Charles Scribner’s Sons on April 10, 1925. Eighty-eight years later, this April 22nd, The Plaza Hotel will unveil a display of props used in the production of the film, along with some of the costumes worn by the cast.
If you’re in the chips, inquire about the Fitzgerald Suite, inspired by the new film. The 900-square-foot suite on the 18th floor is a dramatic art deco space where Gatsby and his crew could have spent that hot, indolent, and fateful afternoon.
If you’re headed to The Rose Club or The Champagne Bar for a drink, a live jazz band plays on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Chartreuse, pronounced shahr-TROOZ, is a pale green or yellow liqueur made from brandy and aromatic herbs. We prefer the original green Chartreuse, which has more complexity. Yellow chartreuse is a later recipe, lower in proof and a sweeter mix of herbs.
Who invented Chartreuse? That information is lost to time.
As the story goes, in 1605 François Hannibal d’Estrées, duc d’Estrées, a French diplomat, soldier, and Marshal of France to King Henry IV, presented the Carthusian monks at Vauvert, near Paris, with an alchemical manuscript. It contained a recipe for an “elixir of long life” (and it may have worked, since the duke reached the unusually old age of 97 [1573 to 1670]).
The recipe eventually reached the religious order’s headquarters at the Grande Chartreuse monastery, north of Grenoble, in the Chartreuse Mountains in southeastern France.
The formula, which was further enhanced in 1737 by Brother Gérome Maubec, is said to include 130 ingredients—herbs, plants, flowers, and other secret ingredients—in a wine alcohol base.
We do know a few of them.
The exact recipes remain trade secrets and are known at any given time only to the two monks who prepare the herbal mixture [source].
The monks intended for their liqueur to be used as medicine, which was the common use of all spirits back in the day.
The liqueur soon became popular, and in 1764 the monks adapted the elixir recipe to make what is now called the Elixir Végétal de la Grande Chartreuse.
Life in Europe was unstable due to the ongoing shifting of power. In 1793, the Carthusian monks were expelled from France along with all other religious orders and the manufacture of Chartreuse ceased. A copy of the manuscript was made and kept at the monastery, but the original manuscript left in the possession of one of the monks.
In the best cloak-and-dagger manner, on his way out of France, the monk carrying the recipe was arrested and sent to prison in Bordeaux. He was not searched and was able to secretly pass the manuscript to one of his friends, Dom Basile Nantas. He sold the manuscript to a pharmacist in Grenoble, a Monsieur Liotard.
The Monks Regain Their Recipe
At the death of the pharmacist, his heirs returned the manuscript to the monks, who had returned to the monastery in 1816.
In 1840, the monks developed a milder version called Green Chartreuse and a sweeter version called Yellow Chartreuse. The green “Liqueur de Santé” was the first liqueur made from the original recipe of the Elixir Végétal de la Grande Chartreuse. It was so popular that Father Garnier, an attorney and responsible for the liqueurs at the time, later decided to officially name it “Chartreuse Verte” and registered the “Chartreuse” mark in 1852. It is still produced and manufactured today by the Chartreux Fathers in their Aiguenoire distillery in Entre-Deux-Guiers (Isère – France).
Oh no: The monks were again expelled from the monastery following a French law of 1903, and their real property, including the distillery, was confiscated by the government.
The monks carried their secret recipe to their refuge in Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain, and began producing their liqueurs with the same Chartreuse label, but with an additional label that noted, “Liqueur fabriquée à Tarragone par Les Pères Chartreux (the liqueur is manufactured in Tarragona by the Carthusian Fathers).
At the same time, the Compagnie Fermière de la Grande Chartreuse, a corporation in Voiron, France that had obtained the Chartreuse assets, produced a liqueur without the monks’ recipe, which they sold as Chartreuse.
While this French corporation was acting legally in France, the monks successfully prevented the export of the liqueur to many other countries, since the order retained ownership of its foreign trademark registrations (largely because the recipe had been kept secret). One trademark dispute was litigated in the U.S., which the monks won.
Sales at the French company were very poor, and by 1929, it faced bankruptcy. A group of local businessmen in Voiron bought all the shares at a low price and sent them as a gift to the monks in Tarragona.
The Monks Return To Their Monastery
After regaining possession of the distillery (even with the expulsion order still in place), the Carthusian brothers returned to the monastery with the tacit approval of the French government and began to produce Chartreuse once again. When a mudslide destroyed the distillery in 1935, the French government assigned Army engineers to relocate and rebuild it at a location near Voiron where the monks had previously set up a distribution point.
After World War II, the government lifted the expulsion order, making the Carthusian brothers once again legal French residents. In 2017 the distillery moved from Voiron to nearby Aiguenoire.
Today, the liqueurs are produced using the herbal mixture prepared by the two monks at Grande Chartreuse.
Isn’t this story worth buying a bottle of Green and a bottle of Yellow?
Current Expressions Of Chartreuse Liqueur
Today there’s more than Green and Yellow. The line of herbaceous liqueurs is all natural, made with no artificial flavors or preservatives.
All can be drunk straight or in cocktails.