Some people like to imbibe artifically colored brewskis on St. Patrick's Day, but I'll be honest with you: that's never been my style. If I'm out drinking on St. Pat's at all, which is quite rare these days, I'll be the guy arriving at 11 am, enjoying two pints of stout and a shot of Irish whiskey and a corned-beef sandwich, and heading home before the lepriphonies come out to play.
But that's not to say I don't enjoy thematic drinking; I just prefer to do it at home. I'll happily mix Champagne cocktails for New Year's Eve, for example, while staying indoors with my family; I celebrate Mardi Gras every year with a Sazerac or a Vieux Carre, even when I'm thousands of miles from New Orleans; and I'm usually content to mix a nice cocktail in my own kitchen on St. Greenbeer's Day.
So, in keeping with the theme, why not some Chartreuse cocktails? Today's drinks feature the lushly herbal Chartreuse in all its emerald glory. So leave your "Kiss Me I'm Irish" button in your junk drawer where it belongs and celebrate another way.
The Chartreuse Swizzle uses the basic Caribbean swizzle formula—a base spirit (or in this case, a liqueur), lime juice, and falernum, combined into a Collins glass with crushed ice, and stirred (or swizzled with a stick) until the glass frosts over. This icy treat is probably better suited to summer than to the middle of March, but it presents such a festive green color that you might not care.
A great drink with an even better name, the Green Ghost mixes gin and Chartreuse, which is always a tasty combination. Better yet, thanks to the liqueur and the lime, it presents a nice bright green color in your glass. If you're looking a green drink that's boozy enough that it won't embarrass your father, this is it.
I know, I know, I've written a lot about the Last Word. I can't help it; it's one of my favorite cocktails. The Last Word achieves a perfect unity of its four ingredients: gin, Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice. And as a bonus, it's also a lovely green color, so it's perfect for Paddy tipples.
The Bijou is sort of a spiritous cousin to the Green Ghost. Where the Green Ghost blends gin, Chartreuse, and lime, the Bijou drops the citrus and adds vermouth. The difference is remarkable. Both cocktails are delicious, but which you prefer probably will simply depend on your temperament. The original recipe is an equal-parts classic with one ounce of each ingredient. When Paul Clarke discussed it here in 2009, he suggested tweaking the recipe to favor the gin. I concur.
Okay, this one ain't gonna impress anyone with its color; the green of the Chartreuse gets lost in the brown color of the rye and applejack. But if you don't like its livery, you'll like its bite. If the Chartreuse Swizzle seems too light and icy for a mid-March evening, this drink should suit your needs. It calls for rye, applejack, and Chartreuse; because I prefer the bonded expressions of Rittenhouse Rye and Laird's Apple Brandy in this, I've always found it to hit me right where I need it.
Tell me, if you're not the green-beer type, how will you be celebrating this St. Patrick's Day?