Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cocktail Spotlight: Chartreuse Swizzle

[ The Chartreuse Swizzle. $12. Enjoy it for only $8 at 320 Main's Tiki Night on Mon, Sept 26th at 7pm. ]

It's been a hot and sweaty past couple of weeks, but the one reason everyone can rejoice over this hot Indian Summer is that it gives us the perfect excuse to enjoy our favorite icy refreshments. One of 320 Main's favorite cocktails to make is the Chartreuse Swizzle and it is the perfect drink to cool you off on a hot September afternoon or evening. Here's how our bartender Matt Robold of describes his first time trying one: 

"The Chartreuse Swizzle is one of the sacred cows of new mixology. I can remember hearing about it being possibly the greatest drink ever created and having my doubts. I mean, it's a drink made with an herbal liqueur as its base. When you're still integrating yourself into the cocktail movement, the idea of a drink built fully around Chartreuse can seem a bit intimidating. Plus, what the heck is someone doing making a swizzle with anything other than rum? It sounds like blasphemy. The first time I had one, it was made by the master himself, Marco Dionysos. The Chartreuse Swizzle provides the perfect balance of spice, sweetness, and sour in a complex-tasting, simple-to-make, and utterly refreshing drink."

The Chartreuse Swizzle
The Chartreuse Swizzle is the brainchild of Marco Dionysos, renowned San Francisco bartender. Let's break it down. Firstly, what is a swizzle? Swizzles are a type of drink usually made with rum, but the use of a swizzle stick to mix the drink is where this family of cocktails derives its name (see picture above for visual aid on the swizzle stick). The Swizzlestick Tree is native to the islands of the Caribbean. A modern bar whisk or simple bar spoon can be used to do the trick as well.

The Chartreuse Swizzle is comprised of the following: 

The Chartreuse Swizzle's
namesake ingredient.
1 1/4 oz. green Chartreuse
1/2 oz. falernum*
1 oz. pineapple juice
3/4 oz. lime juice

*(a citrusy spiced syrup popular as an ingredient in many tiki drinks - click here for a great recipe from Rum Dood)

All the ingredients should be mixed together in a tall glass with crushed ice using a swizzle stick and then garnished with a sprig of mint and fresh nutmeg. A properly "swizzled" drink will form frost on the outside of the glass. The result is an incredibly delicious, complex and thirst quenching summer drink. 

The Mysterious History of Chartreuse
The Chartreuse liqueur is what really makes this drink unique. Equally as unique as its taste, is the French liqueur's history. The recipe for Chartreuse includes extracts from 130 different plants (the chlorophyll of which gives the spirit its green hue). Named after the Grande Chartreuse monastery in Grenoble, France, Carthusian Monks have been distilling this liqueur since the 1740's and its recipe is top secret. It is said that a French marshal presented an alchemical manuscript containing the "elixir to long life" to the Carthusian monks in 1605. Soon the Grande Chartreuse monastery received the recipe and began producing the elixir under the name of "Elixir Vegetal de la Grande Chartreuse". After a few minor enhancements, in the mid to late 1700's the monks began making what we now know as Green Chartreuse. No one has ever successfully reproduced the top secret recipe. Only two monks know how to prepare the herbal liqueur at any given time in history. Chartreuse has a very unique flavor and the Chartreuse Swizzle is a perfect introductory drink to ease into it. 

Tiki Night
Enjoy the Chartreuse Swizzle or one of the other featured drinks at 320 Main's Tiki Night this upcoming Monday, Sept. 26th. Normally $12, the Swizzle and any of the other featured drinks will be offered for only $8. Plus there will be $4 LA dogs or Chicago dogs and the best of the best will be behind the bar: 320 Main owner Jason Schiffer, Matt Robold (aka Rum Dood) and Marcos Tello of The Varnish in LA and 1886 in Pasedena. The fun starts at 7pm and ends at 11pm and the theme for this Tiki night is Tiki Nouveau. Grab your best Hawaiian shirt, head over to 320 Main next Monday night and enjoy this Indian Summer as it should be enjoyed - with a cold cocktail in hand.

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