Bartenders and lovers of Chartreuse are experiencing a hard lesson in supply and demand with the recent shortage of the distinct green liqueur.
Chartreuse is from the French Alps and has been made by Carthusian monks for more than 200 years. There are two types: a green, higher-proof version and a yellow variety that is more mellow. The secret recipe uses more than 120 Alpine herbs, hence the natural green color, and it tastes herbaceous, with notes of mint, anise and tarragon.
Once considered a senior citizen’s sipper, the popularity of the liqueur grew with the classic cocktail renaissance of the early 2000s. Older cocktail recipes — such as a last word, which combines Chartreuse with gin, lime and maraschino liqueur — were back in vogue.
The demand increased again with the pandemic, when some folks bided their time playing home bartender.
In 2019, the monks decided to cap production at 1.6 million bottles, to limit environmental harm and keep their monastic life in balance. With increasing demand and limited production came a shortage that frustrated many bartenders, consumers and spirits retailers.
Luckily, there are some alternatives. While not exact replicas, they can meet the need for a good approximation. Here are three of our favorite Alpine liqueurs:
Bordiga Centum Herbis. From the Italian side of the Alps comes a lower-proof (28% alcohol by volume) herbal liqueur. Centum Herbis is Latin for “100 herbs,” and while peppermint and eucalyptus are among the 100, wormwood and gentian add some bitterness to balance their sweetness. Try this in your next bijou cocktail.
Faccia Brutto Centerbe. Chef Patrick Miller makes a line of Italian aperitivi and amari in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. He leaves dried botanicals, such as lemon balm and nettles, to macerate for a week, but gives fresh herbs, including tarragon and bay leaves, a 24-hour soak for color and brightness. At 45% ABV, this will stand up to the tequila in a naked and famous cocktail.
Longleaf Distilling Co. Evergreen. David Thompson and distiller Will Robinson started Longleaf to make quality spirits and also to help revitalize their hometown of Macon. They enlisted veteran barman Ryan Smith and started creating spirits that are well thought out, including Evergreen, their take on a French herbal liqueur. Evergreen is 55% ABV, the same as Chartreuse.
Try the mint- and anise-forward liqueur in your next last word cocktail, or try this original recipe from Matthew Farmer, a bartender at Nighthawks Lounge, our new bar in Athens.
¾ ounce Calvados
¾ ounce Benedictine
¾ ounce lemon juice
¾ ounce Evergreen liqueur
2 dashes angostura bitters
Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake briskly, and then strain the mix into a cocktail glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Per serving: 170 calories (percent of calories from fat, 2), trace protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram total sugars, trace fiber, trace total fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 1 milligram sodium.
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