We recently rediscovered our bottle of Chartreuse after having a drink on a recent date night that prominently featured Chartreuse. After having just one sip, the bottle we had somehow misplaced into the back of our liquor cabinet popped into our head after tasting the very distinctive flavor and we have been a little obsessed with making cocktails that feature Chartreuse again! Our obsession lead to us coming up with today’s cocktail, The Monk’s Muse.
Chartreuse is one of those very unique liquors that hasn’t really changed since its original recipe was created way back in 1737. Distilled by Carthusian Monks from a handwritten manuscript from that gives a list of 130 herbs, plants and botanicals. Named for the Monk’s Grand Chartreuse monastery in France, the recipe is a closely guarded secret that only two monks at time know.
The two monks carefully dry and blend the herbs into a mix that is then macerated in alcohol to extract the flavors. The macerated mix is then transferred to stills where the alcohols and plant oils are carefully extracted into a rich herbal liqueur. Chartreuse has a very distinctive green color, which comes from a final exposure to an herb blend before getting put into oak barrels to age.
All this work results in a sweet, richly aromatic and boldly herbal liqueur that lends itself to sipping straight or mixing into cocktails to add a real layer of complexity. Chartreuse works really well with gin as both spirits have an herbal component, but where the Chartreuse has a sweet spiciness to it, gins bring a bright citrus quality. With the two spirits making a great foundation, we next built upon that combination by layering in some components to add some balance to the drink.
We decided to stick with spirits from France, choosing to use La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Blanc, a French vermouth made by blending fine white wines and Pineau des Charentes (a French aperitif fortified wine) from the Cognac region of France. The vermouth has a beautiful aromatic perfume and hints of grapefruit, herbs and hay and a woody note that gives a warm sweetness that pairs up with the gin and the aged oaky notes of the Chartreuse.
For our sour component, we go with gin’s classic partner in crime, lemon. The lemon adds a refreshing sourness to the drink and bringing out the citrus notes in the gin. Of course once you add a little sour, you need some sweet, so what better way to celebrate all the wonderful plants used in the Chartreuse then to use honey, which is made from the nectar from all those plants! The honey adds a nice sweetness and warmth and a nice aromatic floral scent.
We used lots of French influences to make the Monk’s Muse, and with that in mind, we decided that any good French dish (or drink in this case) has to have an elegant richness to it. To add that richness, we turned to pear nectar and egg white. The homemade pear nectar adds a smooth fruitiness and body to the cocktail. The egg white is a classic way to add a richness to a cocktail when shaken in, plus it adds a rich foam and creamy texture that smooths out the rough edges of the spirits.
Elegant and refined, a delicious combination of herbs, fruit and citrus, the Monk’s Muse deserves a spot on your table! Cheers!
- 1.5 oz GIn
- 1 oz Vermouth Blanc (La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Blanc)
- 1/4 oz Chartreuse
- 1/4 oz Lemon
- 1/2 oz Honey Syrup
- 3/4 oz Pear Nectar
- 3 drops Honey Chamomile bitters (we recommend Dram Apothecary's fine example)
- 1 Egg White
- Pour all the spirits, syrup, nectar and lemon juice into a shaker.
- Add the egg white.
- Dry shake to emulsify the egg.
- Add ice to the shaker.
- Shake until chilled.
- Double strain into a chilled coupe.
- Garnish with 3 drops of the honey chamomile bitters.
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