Campari and green Chartreuse are two of the most polarizing liqueurs in the cocktail world. Most people love them, but many don’t. The former’s bitterness and the latter’s biting, boozy herbaceousness can overwhelm sensitive palates; both, if used injudiciously, can render a cocktail spiky and unbalanced.
The two aren’t often found together in the same glass. Especially not as the leading players; their strong flavors mean both are usually relegated to supporting-actor status.
So this cocktail, served at Porchlight in New York City and created by bar director Nick Bennett, proves surprising on multiple fronts. Green Chartreuse and Campari come together as the backbone of a shockingly balanced and delicious cocktail that, once you look past the surprise of the two together in the same shaker, is basically not much more than a typical sour-format cocktail, one of the most common formulations in the drinks world; it's just that no one had previously thought to employ these two liqueurs. And with green Chartreuse’s high 55% ABV compensating for Campari’s lower 24%, the resulting cocktail is about the same proof as, say, a Daiquiri or a Whiskey Sour, or any other sour made with a standard-strength spirit.
“What I wanted was a cocktail that felt classic,” says Bennett. “The combination of Campari and green Chartreuse was something that I hadn’t come across enough and (surprisingly) never as the main ingredients.” It does indeed seem to have the makings of a modern classic, despite its unconventional ingredients. “I was overjoyed that it turned out as good as it did, because on paper it doesn’t seem like it should work,” he says.
The recipe seems as simple as it comes, once you get past the unconventional combination of flavors. But there’s a final secret: the addition of saline solution. Adding a touch of salt to cocktails can enhance sweetness and balance bitterness; with just a few drops, the salinity doesn’t reach perceptible levels, but it draws out the other flavors in the drink.
And the drink’s name? One might surmise it arose from the combination of opposites: a red liqueur and a green one, a Christmassy pair sitting across from each other on the color wheel. Or perhaps that people often love one of the liqueurs involved but hate the other. That would be reading too much into it, however. “The name comes from a great Broadway play that I had seen a few years earlier called The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” says Bennett. “I really enjoyed that title and thought the Broadway actors that frequent Porchlight would get a kick out of it.”
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce green Chartreuse
- 1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- 4 drops saline solution (5:1 water to kosher salt)
Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled coupe glass.