Beautiful Combinations: Tequila & Chartreuse
I have a confession to make. I don’t love tequila.
I know. “For shame!” you shout. “Blasphemy!” But it’s true. All things being equal, I would always prefer a cocktail with gin, rum or whisky over the agave spirits (which includes mezcal as well…gasp!) It may be that my palette tends more towards the sweet or bitter vs. the savory flavor or smokiness of tequila. Or it may be that many years ago, at my 22nd birthday bash, a kind benefactor started buying my friends and I shots of tequila to celebrate (no doubt the best brand available at our college-town dive bar), and I ended the night sicker than I had ever been (or since).
So maybe my dislike isn’t fair. Of course I know that there are far superior brands than the one that ruined the day after my 22nd birthday. In my defense, I’ve been working to break myself of this dislike, and I’ve found a terrific way to easy myself back in. The beautiful combination that is tequila and green chartreuse.
Green Chartreuse is one of my favorite cocktail ingredients. It’s an herbal liqueur which has been made in France by Carthusian monks for hundreds of years. Its recipe contains flavors and extracts from 132 different plants. The green color is not artificial – it actually comes from chlorophyll. Chartreuse is sweet, but with an undertone of spice, and a very strong herbal, vegetal flavor. And at 110 proof, it packs a punch.
Green chartreuse is a superior cocktail ingredient, so it’s not a surprise that I enjoy it in tequila cocktails. But there’s something about the combination of the two that’s very appealing. They balance each other incredibly well. And I was lucky enough to come across not just one, but TWO cocktails recently at the East Village tequila bar Mayahuel that both include the combination of tequila and Green Chartreuse.
Last week was Tales of the Cocktail, which for a variety of reasons, I chose not to attend this year. With the migration of New York’s cocktail community down to New Orleans, my friends @sweetblogomine, @daisy17 and @troysidle decided to go visit the noble bartenders who stayed behind to man their posts. One of them was the very talented Adam Ramsey (@adamadamramsey), who you’ll often find behind the bar at Mayahuel. In between plates of delicious chorizo croquetas and cheese quesadillas, Adam prepared two cocktails for me: The Loop Tonic and The Daisy De Sotol.
I’ve had the Loop Tonic before, and it’s excellent. Light and refreshing, but with a complex balance of flavors from tequila, chartreuse, and celery bitters, and a dryness from french vermouth. Adam was kind enough to share the specs. Here’s what you’re going to need.
2 oz silver tequila
1 oz dolin dry vermouth
.75 oz lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup
.5 oz green chartreuse
Dash of celery bitters
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, strain over fresh ice in a highball glass. Garnish with a stalk of celery. Delicious.
When I asked Adam for a variation on a theme – something similar to the Loop Tonic which I had enjoyed so much, but different – he chose the Daisy de Sotol. This time, sotol (a tequila cousin) and green chartreuse combine to create a rich and complex yet refreshing flavor. But a pinch of salt changes the dynamic a bit, and a sprig of mint adds a bit of summer. Once again, Adam was kind enough to share. Here’s what you’re going to need:
2 oz sotol blanco
.5 oz sugar cane syrup
.75 oz green chartreuse
.75 oz lime juice
pinch of salt
Combine the ingredients and a in stemless wine glass and swizzle with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
I’m glad to say that I feel my horizons broadening with each sip. Green chartreuse has been the perfect gateway to reintroduce me to the tequila/mezcal family. Many thanks to @adamadamramsey of Mayahuel for his guidance and willingness to share. And thanks as always to @sweetblogomine, @daisy17 and @troysidle for being wonderful drinking buddies!