World Chartreuse Day: Diamondback

Your cocktail calendar entry for: May
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May 16 is an important date in the history of booze.  So what’s important?  May 16, or 1605 if you think of your calendar like most of the world does with day-before-month, has long been declared World Chartreuse Day. In recognition of that we’ll make the Diamondback cocktail today.  We’ve also made the bartender’s handshake Crunk Like a Monk and the Brandy Fix.

Fortuitously for the world as a whole it was in 1605 that the monks at a Chartreuse monastery in Vauvert, a small suburb of Paris, received a gift from Francois Hannibal d’ Estrees.  That gift was an already ancient alchemical manuscript containing the recipe for an “elixir of long life.”  This recipe ultimately made its way to the Grande Chartreuse monastery near Grenoble, whereupon diligent monks worked tirelessly to decipher it all.  This took a while, as it presumably contains cryptic notations of about 130 different herbs, plants and flowers to be picked at midnight on Tuesdays during a waning moon and so on.  This is serious stuff.

While the Elixir Vegetal de la Grand Chartreuse was produced comparatively rapidly as a medicine (remember, it IS an elixir of long life) it wasn’t until 1737 that Brother Gerome Maubec (probably realizing the stuff tasted pretty good), enhanced that recipe.  In 1764 the monks started producing what is now known as Green Chartreuse.  Clearly, these monks work for quality rather than speed.

But the history is not without its hiccups.  The monks were expelled from France in 1793, with a cessation of making the booze, but were back in-country and at work in 1816.  Not leaving well enough alone France expelled them once again in 1903 and seized their real property, but this time the boys took the secret recipe to their refuge in Tarragona, Catalonia, and made the hooch with an additional label added that translates to “liquor manufactured in Tarragona by the Carthusian Fathers.”  At the same time a French corporation had taken possession of the Chartreuse assets without benefit of the monks’ recipe and were producing what they called Chartreuse.  Bad juju indeed: don’t mess with monks.  The monks were able to prevent the export of such swill to most countries because they had been wise and registered their trademarks widely while keeping the recipe secret.  When that French company subsequently went bankrupt a group of local businessmen stepped in to buy all the shares at a low price and send them as a gift to the monks in Tarragona.  The Forces of Good prevailed, the monks soon regained legal possession of the distillery and they were able to go back with the tacit approval of the French Government.  Wha-la, back at work making booze.  To this day the recipe is a closely held secret, with the herbal mixture prepared at the monastery by the only two monks who know the formula.

You already have Chartreuse, since we’ve already utilized it in the Nuclear Daiquiri, the Civil Disobedience and the Mr. Potato Head special edition list of six cocktails all containing Chartreuse.  So go ahead.  Put on your Chartreuse-brand socks, grab the bottle, and mix up something different.

Let’s have a Diamondback now since the ingredients are ordinary household supplies and already at hand.  Just another simple 2:1:1 cocktail done like this:



Definitely spirit forward, the Diamondback is a complex mix of flavors, combining the spiciness of rye with the herbal components of Chartreuse and the apple notes of Applejack, and being quite balanced despite having three bold ingredients.  If you like this, you should also try a Widow’s Kiss.
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  • 1.5 oz rye whiskey
  • 0.75 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 0.75 oz Applejack
  • Maraschino cherry garnish and remember: Luxardo, not those fluorescent monstrosities!


  • Stir ingredients with ice
  • Strain into chilled cocktail glass
  • Garnish with cherry
  • Drink
  • Rinse and repeat.
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