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While green Chartreuse has been around for nearly four hundred years, Yellow Chartreuse is a relative newcomer, introduced in 1840. Because it’s such an iconic French spirit, Chartreuse is featured prominently in my book, Drinking French. Yellow Chartreuse is lower in alcohol than green Chartreuse, and both come by their color naturally. The yellow a touch sweeter and milder in taste than green Chartreuse, so it works well in cocktails where a little sweetness would be called for. Rumor has it the yellow color is because saffron is added, as well as honey, but no one will reveal or confirm any of the ingredients in Chartreuse. Where Chartreuse jaune shines brightly in the Alaska cocktail, this bracing mix of gin, orange bitters, and yellow Chartreuse.

Because Chartreuse is one of the few liqueurs that evolves in the bottle, whether it’s been open or not, the monks starting putting the year of bottling on the back label. (Some say the yellow evolves more elegantly than the green, which a friend who is a Chartreuse expert told me becomes “angrier” as it ages.) One recent change was that they upped the alcohol percentage from 40% back up to 43%, it’s original strength, as part of their return to their traditional roots.

I figured it was likely a nod to people using it more in cocktails these days, rather than as a little nip after dinner. But I like it either way!

old tom gin

The Alaska Cocktail

The original recipe is made with Old Tom gin, a slightly sweeter style of gin that's often amber-colored. This cocktail is very good with Old Tom gin, but if that's not something you have on hand, or want to get, the recipe works with any other type of gin, including London Dry. If you do get a bottle, you'll find yourself using it to make this drink over and over again, as I do! Some like to add an orange or lemon twist. If you do, hold it skin side down over the glass and squeeze it to express some of the citrus oils over the surface of the drink before dropping it in the glass.
Servings 1 cocktail
  • 2 ounces gin, (preferably Old Tom gin)
  • 3/4 ounce yellow Chartreuse
  • 3 dashes orange bitters
  • Add the gin, Chartreuse, and orange bitters to a cocktail mixing glass. Fill two-thirds full with ice and stir briskly until well-chilled, about 15 seconds.
  • Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

18 comments

    • Chris

    So sad that I missed yesterday’s apero hour. I had to drink alone :(

    • Kim

    I only have green Chartreuse on hand. What can I add to adjust the taste?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Tune in today and ask Tim, or I’ll ask him for you! : )

      • Toni McCormick

      Ditto for me. Nor can I get 375ml bottles in New Orleans either!

        • David
        David Lebovitz

        That may be something that varies by state in the U.S. I know there are a patchwork of liquor laws that differ depending on state. I wish we could get half-bottles of vermouth in France (the French brands are only available in half-bottles outside of the country…)

    • jane

    I need a recipe for orange bitters : )

    • kathleen

    I just read on the Chartreuse website that Voiron site is closed for renovation until Summer of 2021 – no visits available -désolé!

    • Rebecca Allard

    How long does a bottle of Chartreuse need to rest before it is considered aged?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t think there’s a definite answer to that, especially since the aging process is sort of “wild” (i.e.; they don’t know how it evolves and what it will taste like when it does) My guess is that over 5 years is when a bottle of Chartreuse would start to evolve – I sent a message to Tim Master, the expert, and will get back on that…

      Update: Yes, Tim said 5 years sounded about right.

        • Rebecca Allard

        Thanks, David (and Tim)! I’m watching you live right now. Your IGTV is the highlight of my day!

    • Steve Hall

    The show with Tim Master was excellent; packed with so much information. You’ve had so many excellent conversations, it’s a shame that they cannot be archived. What is the name of the store in Le Marais that your mentioned?Keep up the excellent work.

      • Tavio

      I believe the name was caves-bossetti in the Marais. Hope this helps.

        • Steve Hall

        Thanks so much. Yes, looking at Google Maps I see we’ve walked right past it. When we go to Paris we stay at Hotel Caron de Beamarchais, a few blocks east. We usually buy from L’Etiquette on the Ile Saint-Louis. Next time we’ll get there. Merci beaucoup!

        • David
        David Lebovitz

        Yes, it’s Caves Bossetti. I listed and talked about them in Drinking French. They have a very good selection of Chartreuse!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know why they can’t be archived, but perhaps sending that request to Instagram about that feature will let them know it’s something users want. Users have the possibility of doing a screen record, on certain devices.

    • Cris

    Just in from picking up my liquor order and I found a small bottle of yellow chartreuse so time for The Alaska. Loving the daily apero – even if I am watching at 10 am local time.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Glad you are enjoying the daily apéro live videos on Instagram. With that yellow Chartreuse, if you have a copy of Drinking French, The Yellow Cocktail is one of my very favorite drinks/cocktails, and yellow Chartreuse is one of the ingredients :)

    • Sheila

    You are doing such a good job with Apéro Hour – a lot of work for you but so much fun!
    Per Tim’s suggestion, I’ve been trying the Alaska with different gins. Nolet Silver is usually way too floral and perfume-y for me but I loved it here and the yellow Chartreuse really brought out the honey notes in Barr Hill gin.
    Finally, both of you & Tim mentioned green Chartreuse & chocolate so I added some (à la Jamie Boudreau’s Verte Chaud) when I reheated my Chocolat Chaud from Drinking French and thought it was absolutely amazing.
    Thanks for all the fun!

A

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