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Chartreuse: The Drink That Wouldn’t Die

The twists and turns of a mysterious drink distilled by Carthusian monks
By Published Sept. 2, 2021

Mudslides. Persecution during the French Revolution. Trademark disputes. Few drinks have gone through the ringer the way Chartreuse has. 

When I first encountered it in a cocktail called The Silver Monk, I knew vaguely of Chartreuse’s backstory; that the liqueuer was and still is made by a group of silent monks (hence the name of the cocktail). I also knew that the color Chartreuse—think Thandiwe Newton’s dress on Jimmy Kimmel Live—gets its name from the drink, and not the other way around. But as I dug into the liqueur’s history, I realized that there was much more to it than Medieval drama and lore. The amount of Test Kitchen-level R&D that went into perfecting the recipe and the forces against the monks were immense.

On this week’s episode of Proof, I dive into the fascinating backstory of Chartreuse, a drink that defies the test of time. What began as a Philosopher’s Stone-like medicinal potion is now a beloved liqueur among bartenders, and a crucial ingredient that spurred the modern craft cocktail movement. We explain why it’s a miracle that Chartreuse exists today. 

Listen now on your favorite podcast player.

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