The Alaska Cocktail

Recipe Description

The price of Chartreuse has hit the roof recently, so of course I bought some. Supply chain issues & inflation over the last several years have traumatized me. Whether organic or manufactured, these phenomena still hurt, so when something is scarce or rising in price I want to stockpile and hoard–it’s the nature of the beast! Unlike many of the things that are rising in price, Chartreuse is worth paying for.

When asked once what was my favorite cocktail, I thought about it and replied, “The Last Word,” thereby dubbing it the patron cocktail of podcasters, only realizing after how apropos that was! (Read more at https://www.monicamixes.com/recipes/the-last-word/.)

When visiting a friend, we went to buy all the ingredients for a Last Word and when I grabbed the Green Chartreuse I quipped, “This is made of angel tears.” She laughed and knowing my penchant for arcane cocktail ingredients, said, “Of course it is.” It might as well be, given how it’s made, how it tastes, and now, how much it costs! (I just paid $99 each for a bottle of Yellow Chartreuse and one of Green.) Why is it so dear? This lovely liqueur is made in an ancient tradition by cloistered monks in the French mountains and may be dependent on some fragile elements:

Chartreuse (US: /ʃɑːrˈtrz, –ˈtrs/ , UK: /-ˈtrɜːz/, French: [ʃaʁtʁøz]) is a French herbal liqueur available in green and yellow versions that differ in taste and alcohol content.[1] The liqueur has been made by Carthusian monks since 1737 according to instructions set out in a manuscript given to them by François Annibal d’Estrées in 1605. It was named after the monks’ Grande Chartreuse monastery, located in the Chartreuse Mountains north of Grenoble. Today the liqueur is produced in their distillery in nearby Aiguenoire. It is composed of distilled alcohol aged with 130 herbs, plants and flowers.

But be warned, this drink is not for kids, nor the Bellini crowd. As a matter of fact, I always assume liqueur is half the alcohol by volume as liquor and it usually is. Not so Chartreuse. The Green is a whopping 110 proof and the Yellow is a more-than-respectable 86 proof, facts which were brought home to me when I was in Utah, where I noticed that every drink seemed to contain Green Chartreuse. I quickly learned the reason: there are laws about the volume of booze in a drink, not about the proof, so if you can only use a shot-and-a-half, it’s gotta pack a punch! Not only is Chartreuse powerful proof-wise, it’s also quite powerful tasting, so a little goes a long way.

Until recently, the only Chartreuse I considered using was the Green one–I like extremes–but when I saw only one bottle of the Yellow on the shelf (and that at $99!) my caveman brain kicked in and I bought it–then I needed to try it! Wanting to highlight the liquid gold, I opted for a very simple martini variation featuring the precious liqueur, and it was good.

So dear drinker, I give you, the Alaska Cocktail.

*a note on old tom: used to be the only time one ever needed old tom was for the Ramos Gin Fizz, one of the best drinks of all time–we celebrate Easter with it. (Here’s a great recipe and here is the original recipe which is even better–but man is it fattening!) In the RGF, Hayman’s Old Tom Gin was the go-to and, as far as I recall, the only old tom gin. Then came Ransom, an amber old tom that was fantastic in a gin sour of any kind, although I can’t help but think such a light & bright cocktail like the Ramos Gin Fizz (think “spiked lemon-lime egg cream”) would call for a clear liquor. Well, many gin makers began to offer a clear old tom, including Sacred (my favorite gin producer), Ki No (okay, maybe this is my favorite gin producer, but it’s EXPENSIVE) and even Tanqueray, which quickly discontinued it–I guess the revival was short-lived. Fortunately, Hayman’s is still excellent for all your old tom needs, and reasonably priced.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Old Tom Gin
    see the note on old tom above*
  • 3/4 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
  • 3 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters

Preparation

Put a martini glass (wedge-shaped, coupe or Nick & Nora) in the freezer.

Fill a shaker with a handful of ice. Add all ingredients. Stir until chilled, about 15 seconds. NEVER SHAKE A COCKTAIL LIKE THIS. Shaking is for cocktails containing citrus juice.

Service

Remove chilled glass from freezer. Strain cocktail into glass.

Really give this beautiful cocktail your undivided attention. Look at it, sip it, appreciate it.

You’re welcome.

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