Monday, January 19, 2009

Mixology Monday: New Horizons

This month's Mixology Monday is hosted by The Scribe at A Mixed Dram, and the topic is New Horizons. "Try something new!" is the challenge. Hmm.... what to try, what to try.

In perusing the overflow area from my liquor cabinets (does that sound bad?), something beckoned. Which bottle, you say? Why it's that wooden box in the back, which was holding a lovely bottle of green Chartreuse VEP. This very special bottle was given to us by some friends many moons ago, but my wonderful hubby didn't want me to open it until I finished off my other bottles of Chartreuse.

I do love Chartreuse, but many drinks and spirits are fighting for my attention most of the time, so I hadn't earned the right (according to the hubby) to open it yet. I figured this was my shot - I have played with everything else on the counter and in the cabinet, so why not open it for this month's MxMo? Luckily the hubby went for it.

The website for Chartreuse VEP suggests sipping it after dinner, very cold. That was of course delightful. But that wasn't nearly enough experimentation. Although it's hard to imagine, the VEP is even more complex than the regular green Chartreuse, with menthol undertones and rich, complex spices.

Cocktails with Chartreuse
Off I went to find some new cocktails to make with Chartreuse. Unfortunately I did not find the Chartreuse's official website much help, I wasn't really looking to make a Screaming Lizard (with tequila) or a Jungle (with pineapple juice!?). So I went into my old cocktail books and to peruse some of my favorite blogs and websites for ideas.

The first recipe I tried was the Jewel Cocktail (aka the Bijou). This is an oldie but a goodie, and at least two bloggers have discussed this one recently. I have never had one, so it was new to me. I made the recipe several ways - with both regular green Chartreuse and with the VEP, and with two different styles of gin. The clear winner was with the regular green Chartreuse, and our Distiller's Gin No. 6 (over our No. 11). This was a very nice, nuanced cocktail - definitely a sipper. Interestingly, I think our gin was the cheapest ingredient in this one, so the version with the VEP is also one of the more expensive cocktails I've made.

I also made a very similar recipe called the Emerald Cocktail that I found on (which is mysteriously down today) - this one has slightly more gin. This was the favorite version among our our informal tasting panel.

Emerald Cocktail
1 oz gin (Distiller's Gin No. 6)
¾ oz green Chartreuse (regular, not VEP)
¾ oz sweet vermouth (Carpana Antica)
1 dash orange bitters (Regan's)
Stir with ice, strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry and lemon twist.

I also tried some of the other recipes I found, most of which involved lemon juice and/or brown spirits. My other favorite, which was best with the VEP, was:

Spring Cocktail
1½ oz gin (Distiller's Gin No. 6)
½ oz green Chartreuse (VEP)
1/3 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

Shake ingredients with ice, strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist if desired.

Note: I reduced the amount of lemon juice slightly - it was 1/2 oz in the original recipe - and the cocktail was much more balanced. Might be my lemons or the time of the year, so be prepared to tweak the lemon juice.

I found this one on as well, and can't seem to find much info on it - anyone know anything about it?

Well, I'm off to make some more Chartreuse cocktails - thanks to The Scribe for hosting MxMo this month and for the fun idea!


Jared said...

Hi Sonja --

I tried making this with Vya instead of Carpano Antica, and found that the sweetness sort of overwhelmed the other ingredients (I was also making it in equal parts). Do you think CA would lead to a more balanced drink? And can I direct order some of your delicious gin so I don't have to pay the middleman?


~Sonja~ said...

Hi Jared,

I think the CA is less sweet (with richer bitter tones) than the Vya. I love the Vya, but didn't have any so I used the CA. I would try it again with CA, or even with Noilly Prat sweet, and also put slightly more gin than the other ingredients. And unfortunately we are not allowed to sell gin directly to consumers - Illinois' laws are from 1934, when Prohibition ended, and they allow us only to sell to a licensed wholesaler (who in turn sells to a retailer). Hopefully that will change someday, but it hasn't yet!

Thanks for your interest, and let me know how the cocktail turns out!

Jared said...

Thanks Sonja. I'll just pick up a bottle of the #6 at the Sam's in Lincoln Park today for the weekend! Thanks for the tips and I love the blog. Do you offer tours of your distillery?

~Sonja~ said...

We are hoping to have a tour program this year, we don't offer tours just yet (aside from the videos on our website). We'll definitely put updates on our website when we're ready - hopefully soon!