The Alaska Cocktail

[Note: If you’re interested in learning more about Chartreuse, tune into my Instagram Live today, April 24th, at 6pm CET, Noon ET, 9am PT. I’ll be joined my Charteuse expert Tim Master and he’ll be answering questions and making this cocktail. Because of the split-screen format, this Live session can’t be archived for replay – so tune in live (here’s how) to watch!]

While green Chartreuse has been around for nearly four hundred years, Yellow Chartreuse is a relative newcomer, introduced in 1840. While it’s lower in alcohol than green Chartreuse, it too comes by its color naturally. It’s 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 is 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!

The Alaska Cocktail
Print Recipe
1 cocktail
The original recipe is made with Old Tom gin, a slightly sweeter style of gin. But that's not something you may have on hand and the recipe works with any other type of gin, including London Dry. 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 othef citrus oils over the surface of the drink before dropping it in the glass.
2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce yellow Chartreuse
3 dashes orange bitters
1. 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.
2. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

The Alaska Cocktail

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18 comments

  • Chris
    April 24, 2020 11:27am

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

  • Kim
    April 24, 2020 1:08pm

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

    • April 24, 2020 1:10pm
      David Lebovitz

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

    • Toni McCormick
      April 24, 2020 3:50pm

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

      • April 25, 2020 10:18am
        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
    April 24, 2020 5:55pm

    I need a recipe for orange bitters : )

  • kathleen
    April 24, 2020 6:54pm

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

  • Rebecca Allard
    April 24, 2020 7:06pm

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

    • April 24, 2020 7:21pm
      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
        April 25, 2020 6:29pm

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

  • Steve Hall
    April 24, 2020 9:58pm

    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
      April 25, 2020 1:05am

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

      • Steve Hall
        April 25, 2020 6:23am

        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!

      • April 25, 2020 9:29am
        David Lebovitz

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

    • April 25, 2020 9:33am
      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
    April 25, 2020 1:01am

    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.

    • April 25, 2020 9:30am
      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
    April 27, 2020 9:14pm

    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!