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3 Ways to Drink Chartreuse

billionaire cocktail
Billionaire Image: / Tim Nusog

Green or yellow, Chartreuse is forever engulfed in mystery. Both varieties of the liqueur are believed to be made with 130 different herbs, spices and flowers, but the exact formulas are closely guarded secrets.

The original recipe dates back to 1605, when it was supposedly presented to Carthusian monks by a marshal of Henry IV. The proportions have been protected by a vow of silence ever since.

The intensely herbal liqueur was first used for medicinal purposes, but the recipe evolved into today’s Green Chartreuse, which is bottled at 110 proof and bears brighter, sharper botanicals and spices than that of its yellow counterpart. Yellow Chartreuse, introduced many years later, is bottled at 80 proof and is likely flavored with saffron and honey, offering a sweet alternative that fares well with brown, barrel-aged spirits, while the Green prefers gin and tequila.

No matter which hue you choose, this centuries-old liqueur is worth experimenting with. Try charming your tequila with Green Chartreuse and jalapeño, or conjuring sunshine with Yellow Chartreuse and honeydew syrup. The effects will be spellbinding.

  • Monte Cassino

    monte cassino cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Not one, but two complex herbal liqueurs bookend this rye-based coupe. Bénédictine and Yellow Chartreuse have similarly curious origins—both were developed by French monks with highly secret recipes. Honey-colored Yellow Chartreuse offers a mild sweetness that tangles well with both Bénédictine’s mellow fruit character and the innate spice of rye whiskey.

    Get the recipe.

  • Frosty Mule

    frosty mule cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Yellow Chartreuse sings when struck with citrus, and this elevated Mule is a prime example. Peppery ginger syrup is a willing accomplice that enhances Chartreuse’s many spices, and bound with lemon juice, the two create a marriage that’s anything but “frosty.”

    Get the recipe.

  • Billionaire

    billionaire cocktail / Tim Nusog 

    Big spenders: Meet your spirit cocktail. Green Chartreuse isn’t just an ingredient in this drink: It’s an ingredient within an ingredient. Blended with two types of absinthe and three types of bitters, the liqueur produces a mix of star-quality, over-the-top bitters. Those amped up bitters create a Gilded Age–worthy glass when shaken with bourbon, lemon juice and grenadine.

    Get the recipe.