| Chartreuse cocktails at Dram & Grain.|
By Anna Spiegel
WASHINGTON, DC. - Chartreuse is having its moment—one of many over 400 years. The complex green and yellow liqueurs are hot among Washington bartenders, whether mixed into cocktails or taken straight. Here’s what to know before you hit the bar.
So what's in Chartreuse, exactly? No one knows! Well, two French Carthusian monks know at any given time, but they’ve been sworn to secrecy at the Grande-Chartreuse monastery.
This sounds like Harry Potter. A bit. The green liqueur’s story begins near Paris in 1605 with the Chartreuse order of monks, who received a gift of an ancient manuscript describing a secret elixir with curative powers. Fast-forward more than a century and the monks finally decipher the recipe: a digestif dubbed the Elixir of Long Life. With a nickname like that, you know it’s good—so good they began distilling it as a drink in 1764 with the elixir’s 130 herbs and botanicals. A few wars, exiles, et cetera aside, the monks have been making it ever since.