Get the Bartenders secret weapon working for your venue

Apr 21, 2022
Bartenders Corner I

It’s one of the best-kept secrets in the world of liqueurs and spirits – a secret born in a mountain range from which this emblematic and rarefied beverage borrowed its name.

The Chartreuse (Carthusian) Mountains are the homeland of the Carthusian Monks, a silent order of Fathers and Brothers, founded with the Monastery of “La Grande Chartreuse” in 1084. Over 500 years later, in 1605, the Duke of Estrees, a Marshal in the army of the King of France, entrusted the order with a manuscript bearing a recipe for a mysterious ‘Elixir of Long Life’. The recipe called for 130 medicinal herbs, barks, and flowers.

The monks were intrigued.

But it wasn’t until much later, in 1737, that the monastery’s apothecary finally developed a practical method for making the Elixir Végétal de la Grande Chartreuse’. At first, the monks used the ‘Elixir’ themselves as a health-giving tonic while administering it to help the local peasants.

So tasty was the ‘Chartreuse Elixir’ that it was often enjoyed as a beverage and a medicine. So, in 1764, the monks adapted the recipe to make a liqueur. This was the birth of the ‘Green Chartreuse’ we know today. But thanks to revolution and war, the secret of Chartreuse would soon be threatened again.

In 1789, during the chaos of the French Revolution, the Carthusian monks were expelled from their monastery. One monk escaped with the manuscript only to then be arrested shortly after. In the confusion, he slipped the precious parchment to another monk, who entrusted it to a sympathetic pharmacist who couldn’t decipher it. The parchment slowly fell into oblivion – only to be recovered by the Carthusian Fathers when the pharmacist died.

A secret recovered

From 1840, using secrets recovered from the manuscript, the monks restarted the production of the ‘Green Chartreuse’ and ‘Yellow Chartreuse’ so famous today. Every year, over 1 million bottles of Chartreuse are sold worldwide, supporting the Carthusian monks to live simple lives of prayer, self-sufficiency, and contemplation.

To this day, the manuscript with the original recipe is kept in a secret safe. Only the Father Superior of the Carthusian order has the key.

A legend protected at all costs

The recipes of the various Chartreuse elixirs and liqueurs are not protected by any patent – this is done to protect the secret from ever being divulged. Instead, the recipes are known only to Father Superior and two hand-picked monks.

Dom Benoît and Brother Jean-Jacques are the only two Carthusians who know the names of all 130 herbs and plants used to make Chartreuse. These two monks and the two laymen who assist them are the only people allowed to enter the herb room, where the herbs, barks, spices and peels that go into Chartreuse are gathered.

These two monks alone know which plants to macerate, which to blend and which to distil – knowledge memorised from the manuscript bequeathed to the Carthusian Order over 400 years ago.

They also personally supervise the slow ageing of the liqueurs in oak casks in the Chartreuse Ageing Cellar, located in the French town of Voiron in the Carthusian mountains.

Built in 1860 and enlarged in 1966, the Chartreuse Ageing Cellar is not only the largest liqueur cellar in the world at 164 metres long but is also the oldest. This is where Chartreuse liqueurs mature until Dom Benoît and Brother Jean-Jacques deem them ready for bottling.

Lest the knowledge these two monks hold is accidentally lost, they are never allowed to travel together in the same car or plane.

Green Chartreuse vs Yellow Chartreuse – what’s the difference?

The bolder of the two spirits with an ABV of 55 per cent, Green Chartreuse is the only liqueur in the world with a completely natural green colour and complex, delicious herbaceous flavour unlike anything else. Less sweet than the yellow liqueur, Green Chartreuse features a powerful herbal, peppery nose and fresh palate settling into a warm, almost minty finish with pine sap and citrus fruit notes.

One of the best ways to discover the flavour and aromatic power of Green Chartreuse flavour is to serve it as a digestif – ideally chilled between 12° and 13° or on ice.

With intense yellow colour and ABV of 40 per cent, Yellow Chartreuse features a sweeter, mellower profile yet retains the same complex, herbal flavours as its big green brother. A softer structure delivers a fresh and spicy nose with scents of turmeric, saffron, citrus and anise and lingering floral notes.

Yellow Chartreuse is a gorgeous and versatile cocktail ingredient that lets you add sweetness and nuance without simple syrup.

Tasting Chartreuse on the rocks is an experience in itself, as both Green and Yellow Chartreuse continue to age in the bottle, making each tasting a unique experience.

Chartreuse Cocktails to offer today

As generations of bartenders have discovered, there’s just so much you can do with the incredible complex herbal flavours of Chartreuse. An important ingredient in mixology, Chartreuse is an excellent modifier of cocktails that can be used to create new flavours and enhance taste and visual appeal. It’s versatility in cocktail-making has earned its reputation as ‘The Bartender’s Secret Weapon’!

The best-known Green Chartreuse cocktail is the easy-to-make The Last Word – a little sweet, a little sour, and a lot tasty. Watch the video.

The Last Word


20mL Green Chartreuse

20mL The Botanist Gin

20mL Maraschino

20mL Fresh Lime Juice


Shake the ingredients with ice cubes, then pour into a glass, filtering off the ice. Serve in a martini glass.

Bartender’s Tip: The Last Word is best made with freshly squeezed lime juice.

‘The drink you don’t want to meet in a dark alley’

The lesser-known Yellow Chartreuse features in one of the most talked-about cocktails of the last decade. Well known to the cocktail cognoscenti, the infamous Death Flip was invented by Chris ‘Hasselhoff’ Hysted-Adams at the Black Pearl Bar in Melbourne. In a flash of genius, Chris decided to create a cocktail with all the most unpopular ingredients at the time. He also made it the bar’s most expensive cocktail, billing it as ‘the drink you don’t want to meet in a dark alley’. At first, to add to the mystery, he refused to even list the ingredients. Before long, the luscious, delicious Death Flip had become the Black Pearl’s biggest seller and a global sensation.

Death Flip


30 mL Sierra Silver tequila

15 mL Yellow Chartreuse

15 mL Jägermeister 1 dash of simple syrup

1 whole egg

Freshly grated nutmeg


Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice.  Strain into a saucer glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Taking a classic to the next level

There’s just so much you do with the incredible complex herbal flavours of Chartreuse…starting with an updated version of the classic Mojito. Brimming with herbal notes that dance on the tongue and a subtle green tint, the Chartreus’ito is bound to surprise and delight.



1/2 lime

2 teaspoons of cane sugar

30 mL Green Chartreuse

Fresh mint

Sparkling water

Ice cubes


Directly in a highball glass:

Cut the lemon into pieces and crush it with the cane sugar. Pour the green Chartreuse. Add mint. Fill with ice cubes and sparkling water.

Hot chocolate made in heaven

For generations, sophisticated French chefs and cooks have known how well Chartreuse and chocolate go together. One shot of Green Chartreuse turns an ordinary cup of hot chocolate into the exceptional Chartreuse Green Chaud – as herbaceous, peppery, spicey. Delicately sweet flavours follow one another, creating a hot chocolate truly made in heaven.


30 mL Green Chartreuse

150 mL quality hot chocolate

Whipped cream

Cocoa powder


Pour the hot chocolate up to 3/4 of the mug. Pour the Green Chartreuse and stir. Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with cocoa.

Bartenders Tip: Garnish with marshmallows for an extra indulgent touch.

Today over one million bottles of Chartreuse are created every year, using 24 tons of medicinal plants, bark roots, spices and flowers.

How you can benefit from our Chevalier

When it comes to making the most of Chartreuse in your bar or venue, no one has more secrets to share than our Chartreuse Chevalier Andy Buntine. In Australia, Andy is one of only seven Chartreuse Chevaliers (or Knight of Chartreuse), a coveted title awarded to one with a special love and respect for the brand and extraordinary knowledge of cocktail ideas and creation.

Our Brand Ambassadors help educate your staff to tell incredible stories like Chartreuse’s, working with venue managers and bartenders to help craft drinks that keep customers coming back.

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