Diamondback Cocktail

World Chartreuse Day

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 go with day-before-month, is 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.

Where does Chartreuse come from?

In 1605 some monks 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 to decipher it.  This took a while, as it contained cryptic notations of about 130 different herbs, plants and flowers to be picked at midnight on Tuesdays during a waning moon and so on.  Serious stuff.

The Elixir Vegetal de la Grand Chartreuse was produced comparatively rapidly as a medicine (remember, it IS an elixir of long life).  But it wasn’t until 1737 that Brother Gerome Maubec enhanced that recipe.  In 1764 the monks started producing what is now known as Green Chartreuse.

But the history is not without its hiccups.  The monks were expelled from France in 1793 and couldn’t make the booze.  But they were back and at work by 1816.  But France expelled them again in 1903 and seized their property.  This time the boys took the secret recipe to their refuge in Tarragona, Catalonia.  Meanwhile, a French corporation took possession of the Chartreuse assets and produced what they called Chartreuse.

Lesson: don’t mess with monks.  The monks prevented export of the imitation to most countries because they had registered their trademarks and kept the recipe secret.  The imitation company went bankrupt a group of local businessmen bought all the shares.  Those shares were promptly gifted to the monks.  The Forces of Good prevailed and the monks soon regained possession of the distillery.  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 by the only two monks who know the formula.

The Diamondback cocktail

We’ve already used Chartreuse in the Nuclear Daiquiri, the Civil Disobedience and the Last Word for the Mr. Potato Head birthday special with six cocktails all containing Chartreuse.  So go ahead.  Put on your Chartreuse-brand socks, grab the bottle, and mix up something the Diamondback cocktail.

The Diamondback cocktail was chronicled in Ted Saucier’s 1951 book Bottoms Up.  It was often called the Diamondback Lounge cocktail, as it was the signature drink at the long gone Diamondback Lounge in the Lord Baltimore Hotel in,  you guessed it, Baltimore.  The hotel’s still there but the lounge is long gone.

The Diamondback is another 2:1:1 ratio recipes, much like other cocktails we enjoy such as the Boulevardier and any number of Negroni variations.  It’s a very spirit-forward drink, with spice from rye whiskey, apple notes from Applejack and any variety of herbal components from the Chartreuse.  Highly recommended.

Diamondback cocktail


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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