Elixir Vegetal

Chartreuse in it’s two normal forms, Yellow & Green, usually doesn’t make the list of favourite drinks for much of the drinking public. Content with their Cosmopolitans, their Vodka tonics and their shaker shots of Kamikaze madness.

Luckily for the privileged few, those who have formed a deep affection with this wonderfully herbal tonic, the Carthustian monks don’t care too much for the general public. Content instead, wandering the halls of monastic tradition in a delightful haze, turning out God’s nectar. For those of you who’ve suckled at the Master’s cup, drunk deeply of his Last Word or skipped joyfully through the Dasies filled with the warmth of her yellow Sun, the third arm of the glorious Trinity is slowly become more available here in Australia.

History states that the monks recieved a gift from the Marshall of Artillery in King Henri VI’s army. A man by the really rather grand name, Francois Hannibal d’ Estrees, gave the monks a manuscript entitled “An Elixir of Long Life.”

Stories from that time suggest the recipe was very complex, and in any case, it took them 122 years to perfect the method and start selling Elixir Vegetal, a herbal and floral tonic suspended in alcohol at 71%. The taste, then as now, developed a fast following and 27 years after the Elixir hit the streets, The mighty Green came into existence. Then came Napoleon, and the expulsion of the religious orders, the collection of the secret recipes and many other tidbits of history. I’ll be happy to share them over a Chartreuse based drink…

The rarest of rare is a production of the V.E.P. (Viellissement Exceptionnellement Prolongé or Exceptionally Extended Aging), it commenced in 1963. It is the distillate of Green Chartreuse, held back from dilution & bottling to be further aged.

The small bottle above harks back to elixir vegetal, but few believe all items to be the same though its packaging is extraordinary and shared by the VEP.  It is quite simply intense, almost like a bitters.


5 thoughts on “Elixir Vegetal

  1. It’s an incredible product and I treasure my bottles deeply (one benefit of being Chartreuse ambassador in NZ) and it is best used as a bitters. The folks of Grenoble take it like a medicine, dispensing a few drops onto a sugar cube before swallowing their daily dose with religious fervor.

    There are a couple of bottlings that are even rarer than the V.E.P however, see if you can find either the 1603 (when the monks were first given the legendary manuscript) or the 9th Century, named after the founding of the Cartusian Order.

    And if you want something REALLY special:


  2. Chartreuse in my opinion is simply the finest liqueur on earth. I have long been preaching that it’s the ‘next big thing’ – though in truth I hope it never becomes such.

    Evidence that Chartreuse is esteemed by the bartending aristocracy can be found in the fact that the last three Australian Bartenders of the Year all used Chartreuse in their winning drink formulas.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view), many bartenders are put off Green Chartreuse whilst they’re still juniors in their profession. In Australia all too often does this nectar fall pray to stag night feats of drinking prowess where it’s given the same difference a ‘wet pussy’ or a cheap rot-gut whiskey.

    Oh and the Liqueur du Neuvième Centenaire is as exception as Mr Ginger Bitters makes it out – used to have a couple of bottles at Mea Culpa. Those were the days!

    • everydaydrinking says:

      The stories I found of the Napoleonic Revolution and Chartreuse are pretty cool. I might try and edit some of it down and post it.

  3. 최성만 says:

    프랑스를 여행을 다녀온 분에게 선물을 받았고 당신의 회사 술은 감동이였습니다ᆞ내가 프랑스를 갈수없지만 그술의 감동을 다시 느끼고싶습니다ᆞ방법을 ……?

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