Whether you’re looking for a Green Chartreuse or Yellow Chartreuse alternative, these are some of the best options available. Both Chartreuse types are in very limited supply, and prices have skyrocketed from $40 a bottle to over $100 a bottle. If you can’t find it or can’t afford it, these are some alternatives to explore.
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Why is There a Chartreuse Shortage?
Many bartenders and those entrenched in the liquor business noticed the chartreuse shortage begin years ago. Turns out, chartreuse is not the only liqueur or cocktail-related substance that is hard to get ahold of these days. Apparently, bartenders have had difficulty getting their hands on everything from Amari and Angostura bitters to vermouth and cognac.
Those who have been paying attention chalk these shortages up to the ultimate convergence of worldwide labor shortages, product constraints, and logistics issues. Whatever the problems that need solving, let’s pray the liquor never dries up completely!
The History of Chartreuse
Chartreuse is a liqueur with a rich and storied history. It was first created by monks in the 17th century at the Grande Chartreuse monastery near Grenoble, France. The recipe for the liqueur was said to have been handed down to the monks by a mysterious alchemist who visited the monastery in the early 1600s. The monks spent years perfecting the recipe, which included a complex blend of over 130 herbs and botanicals.
The exact recipe is still a closely guarded secret to this day and is only known by two monks at any given time. During the French Revolution, the Grande Chartreuse monastery was forced to close, and the monks were forced to flee to nearby Voiron. It was there that they continued to produce Chartreuse in secret, and it eventually became popular with the French aristocracy. In the 19th century, the liqueur’s popularity spread beyond France, and it became a favorite among European royalty and high society. It was even said to be a favorite of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Today, Chartreuse is still produced in Voiron, France, by the Carthusian monks, who have maintained the traditional methods of production for over 400 years. The liqueur has also gained popularity among bartenders around the world, who use it in a variety of cocktails, including the classic Last Word and the modern Bijou.
With its complex and unique flavor profile, Chartreuse continues to be a beloved spirit among connoisseurs and cocktail enthusiasts alike, and its rich history only adds to its mystique and allure.
Green Chartreuse versus Yellow Chartreuse
Green Chartreuse and Yellow Chartreuse are two liqueurs that are both made by the Carthusian monks in France, but they differ in their ingredients and flavor profiles.
Green Chartreuse is the original and more famous of the two. It is made from a secret recipe that includes over 130 herbs and botanicals, many of which are sourced from the surrounding mountains near the Carthusian monastery where it is produced. It has a strong, herbal flavor with notes of anise, mint, and citrus, and is known for its vibrant green color.
Yellow Chartreuse, on the other hand, was developed later as a milder and sweeter alternative to the original Green Chartreuse. It is made from a different recipe that includes about 80 herbs and botanicals, and is aged in oak barrels for a longer period of time than its green counterpart. Yellow Chartreuse has a smoother and more delicate flavor with notes of honey, saffron, and vanilla, and is a pale yellow color.
Both Green and Yellow Chartreuse are considered to be among the most complex and intriguing liqueurs in the world, and are often used in cocktails as a way to add depth and complexity to drinks. Green Chartreuse is commonly used in classic cocktails like the Last Word, while Yellow Chartreuse is often used in modern cocktails like the Paper Plane.
While Green Chartreuse is more well-known and has a stronger flavor profile, Yellow Chartreuse is a unique and versatile liqueur in its own right. Whether used on their own or in combination with other ingredients, both Green and Yellow Chartreuse are beloved by bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts alike for their depth, complexity, and history.
Alternatives Master List
Green Chartreuse Alternatives
Two Final Wards (equal parts Rittenhouse Rye, Lemon juice, Maraschino) except one with chartreuse and one with Boomsma Cloosterbitter which is being touted as a possible Chartreuse substitute. Honestly, the difference really is minimal.
The Cloosterbitter Final Ward came in at 10g lighter (so less diluted) but it’s definitely a teeny bit less punchy because it’s only 30% and Chartreuse is at 55%. A bit more aniseed in the Cloosterbitter, especially in the aftertaste. A bit sweeter; I think it needs a tad less Maraschino.
Tasting them side by side, the Chartreuse is a lot more complex. Interestingly, the Cloosterbitter has more aniseed in the aroma but less in the actual taste?
Pragmatically though – the Chartreuse was 43 euros a bottle and the Cloosterbitter was 13. I’ve been going back and forth between the two on my desk and if I watered down the Chartreuse one just a bit (so it was a bit less bam), I don’t think I’d be able to tell you which one is which with certainty.
The Cloosterbitter also doesn’t overwhelm as much, so I think I’ll be trying it with a) maybe 25% less sweet in last word variants and b) in the drinks where it’s 10ml of Chartreuse to stop it taking over I’ll up it to 15 or so.
Comparison provided by TheCommieDuck
Yellow Chartreuse Alternatives
Eyguebelle Aelred Elixer 1889 Coiron Vert Liqueur
The recipe for this herbal liqueur was created at the end of the 19th century and consists of various plants, flowers and roots. After the distillation process, it is matured in oak barrels, where Cognac or Armagnac was previously stored. It reveals a complex aroma.
Where to Buy Chartreuse
Buy Green Chartreuse
Buy Yellow Chartreuse
From recipes using locally sourced ingredients and terroir-centric cooking, craft cocktails, to the latest in tech and home DIY projects, Michael yearns to share his learned and found knowledge of the world.