A Bijou is right at home at new Provencal restaurant Aix.
Photo: CONTRIBUTED BY ANGELA HANSBERGER
Photo: CONTRIBUTED BY ANGELA HANSBERGER

Meet the Bijou, the cocktail that dazzles for the holidays

Here’s a New Year’s resolution that’s easy to keep: Serve cocktails that will wow friends and family. 

Need an idea for a stunning drink? The Bijou dazzles with the big bold flavors of the pre-Prohibition era. What’s more, it’s easy to make.

Invented in the late 19th century, the recipe for the Bijou first was published in barman Harry Johnson’s “Modern Bartender’s Manual” (1900 edition). Bijou means “jewel” in French, and legend has it that Johnson was inspired by the gem-colored spirits of gin, vermouth and Chartreuse, which resemble diamonds, rubies and emeralds, respectively.  

Chartreuse, a liqueur made by French monks from a 400-year-old recipe using 130 herbs and botanicals, lends boldness and a bit of bewitching mystery to the drink. So mysterious is the recipe, that it is protected by a vow of silence. Floral botanicals in gin and sweet vermouth are the supporting cast to this cocktail. 

The Bijou possesses a range of flavors. There is bright sweetness up front, velvety smoothness, and a complex finish. 

Bijou cocktail

Serves 1

Ice

1 ounce Chartreuse

1 ounce vermouth

1 ounce gin

Dash of orange bitters

Cocktail cherry, for garnish

Fill a cocktail glass with ice. Set aside.

Combine the Chartreuse, vermouth, gin, bitters and more ice in a mixing glass. Stir well with a spoon. 

Empty ice from cocktail glass. Strain mixture into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cocktail cherry. 

Serves: 1.

Rather sip on a Bijou around town? We’ve got you covered.

Watchman’s 

Chartreuse originally was created as “the elixir of long life” when Carthusian monks began distilling it, and it truly is celebrated at Watchman’s. You’ll see bar manager Adrian Fessenden-Kroll pouring Chartreuse shots from a custom-made chiller/dispenser. The natural green color is a match for the space, dripping with potted greenery. Her Bijou trades sweet vermouth for Lustau Rojo, a vermouth with a nutty sherry base. 

99 Krog St., Atlanta. 404-254-0141, watchmansatl.com

The chill vibes at Ink call for a Bijou cocktail.
Photo: CONTRIBUTED BY JOSHUA FRYER 

Ink

The new dark bar adjacent to 8Arm doesn’t have a set cocktail menu, but general manager and bartender Joshua Fryer will stir to your desire or disposition. A Bijou shimmers in the moody space. Fryer uses Cotswald gin and Scarpa vermouth, both of which, he said, “are bold and magical on their own, and really balance out the Chartreuse.” A fun way to drink one is by ordering a cocktail omakase, a flight of drinks at a set price. Exotic international records spin, adding to the chill vibe. 

710 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 470-875-5856, 8armatl.com/ink

It’s not on the menu, but you can get a Bijou at C. Ellet's.
Photo: CONTRIBUTED BY KIRK GIBSON 

C. Ellet’s

While the menu only contains two cocktails (martini and old fashioned), bartenders at C. Ellet’s are adept at the classics. A Bijou is earthy and herbal and does right by a grand seafood tower or a plate of roasted oysters. It sips seasoned and spicy, like a mignonette. 

2605 Circle 75 Parkway, Atlanta. 678-996-5344, c-ellets.com

Aix

At chef Nick Leahy’s new Provencal Westside restaurant, all things French are fêted. Whether ordered with a duck confit crepe, or after dinner at adjoining bar Tin Tin, a Bijou fits right in. Bartender Mike McDermott’s rendition is crisp and herbaceous, with an edge like a finely cut jewel. 

956 Brady Ave., Atlanta. 770-838-3501, aixatl.com

Explore an Italian version of a Bijou at Sandy Springs' il Giallo
Photo: CONTRIBUTED BY IL GIALLO 

il Giallo

With handmade pasta and coastal cuisine, Sandy Springs’ il Giallo aims to transport diners to an Italian osteria. For cocktails, they stick to the classics, including a long popular Bijou with an Italian twist. Bartender Erion Tafa swaps Chartreuse for Galiano — that tall, Roman-column-shaped bottle lurking in the back of bar cabinets. The sweet, herbal Italian liqueur blends with brandy, bitters and citrus for a spice-driven Italian gem.

5920 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. 404-709-2148, ilgialloatl.com

RELATED:

More cocktail news

An Atlanta drinker’s guide to the holidays 

Make this Persimmon Old-Fashioned, ripe for the holidays

3 holiday cocktail recipes

Perfect holiday gift ideas for bar enthusiasts

Read the 2018 AJC Fall Dining Guide: Dining on Buford Highway 

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