Ever since I really got in to cocktails and started trying to find the more exotic ingredients, I’ve been incredibly frustrated with what local off-licenses and supermarkets stock. If you’re after Absolut vodka or more famous liqueurs like Cointreau, then there isn’t a problem, but try finding Maraschino or Chambord and you’ll almost certainly be out of luck. My only options have been the rather overpriced Selfridges, who stock a reasonable selection of stuff but at well inflated prices, or Drinkon, an online alcohol store.
Until now that is. Last weekend whilst driving through an area of town I rarely visit, I spotted a small shop by the name of The Worcester Wine Company. I thought I would pop in just to see what their spirit selection was like, and was amazed to find a fantastic array of goodies, from various Bourbons to obscure vermouths like Carpano Punt e Mes and even Peychaud’s bitters – something I never thought I’d find in a local off-license.
What’s more, the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, eager to talk about wine and spirits and help you find anything you’re after. In the unlikely event anyone reading this is ever in the Worcester area, I highly recommend checking out The Worcester Wine Company – I know I’ll be visiting again soon. It’s a cruel twist of fate that I have discovered the place just a month before I relocate to London. Still, at least I’ll have somewhere to indulge my spirit obsession when I am back here visiting. Keep up the good work Nick!
Anyway, back to cocktails. Chartreuse is a distilled wine liqueur, produced at the Grande Chartreuse monastery in France, which gets it’s rather unusual flavour from over 130 herbal extracts. It dates back to 1605, though the current Green Chartreuse was created in 1764. The exact recipe is a closely guarded secret, which despite many attempts has never been repoduced. Today there are two varieties of Chartreuse available – the aforementioned Green Chartreuse, which is a heady 110 proof, and Yellow Chartreuse which is sweeter and weaker, at 80 proof.
- ¾ shot gin
- ¾ shot Maraschino
- ¾ shot Green Chartreuse
- ¾ shot lime juice
- Shake all ingredients well with ice and fine strain in to a cocktail glass.
To road-test Chartreuse I could find no better cocktail than the Last Word, a 1920’s cocktail which Gabriel heartily recommended recently. On paper the Last Word doesn’t seem like it should work. Adding Chartreuse, a very potent, strongly flavoured liqueur, to Maraschino, which is similarly strong in taste though in a different way, might seem like a recipe for disaster. Combined with lime and gin, all in equal measures, it seems like nothing short of madness. Despite all the positive things I’ve read about it, I really didn’t expect much…
However, amazingly it all somehow works! The Chartreuse and Maraschino seem to almost cancel each other out, while still allowing the essence of their flavours to show through, with the lime and gin lifting the drink to a more palatable balance. Despite so many flavours battling for your taste buds every ingredient can be detected, without any one overpowering or clashing with another. I don’t know what Frank Fogarty, the creator of the Last Word, was thinking when he combined these four ingredients, but we are very lucky he did.
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