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Why American Drinkers Crave Chartreuse, A Liqueur Made By French Monks

US demand for Chartreuse, a plant-based liqueur, has never been higher. But the French monastic community that makes it has refused to increase production, preferring to save time for contemplation and earth conservation.

Issuance of:

The Grande Chartreuse Abbey in the French Alps near Grenoble has been producing its eponymous liqueur since the early 17th century.

monk from Carthusian Please follow the recipe when ordering. The secret is known to only two people at a time in our 30-strong community.

The bright green liqueur, or the mellow yellow liqueur, is made from more than 130 alpine plants, but there’s a problem.

Among the already rare plants, climate change.

In January of this year, the monks issued a statement. The company said it would not increase production to meet rising demand, largely due to the U.S. boom in cocktails featuring bittersweet drinks.

Camber Ray, bar manager at San Francisco’s Quiver Bar, pours conversos (a cocktail made with pear, green tea gin, lillet blanc, chartreuse, and lemon). © ASSOCIATED PRESS – Liz Hafalia

“Infinite growth is no longer possible,” Dom Dismas, the predecessor of the Grands Chartreuse, recently said. told the admin of chartreuse diffusion, company It sells this drink, and monks are the major shareholders.

Underlying Cap in their production, they explained, was the monks’ desire to focus on their “main goal” of solitude and prayer.

They also want to limit the environmental footprint of their business and increase international shipping.

Global sales in 2022 exceeded $30 million, according to the company. Diffusion of Chartreuse. Of the 1.6 million bottles produced annually, half are sent to the United States.

The goal is to “ship all the bottles on a yacht to the New York market by 2024-2025,” said CEO Emmanuel Delafon. told a French newspaper Dauphiné Liberée.

“Solutions exist. Yes, they will cost more, but tomorrow we will have to pay the price,” he said.

cocktail craze

The recent Chartreuse craze in the United States reportedly began in 2003 when a Seattle bartender popularized a cocktail known as “The Last Word,” a mixture of gin, Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice.

However, the history of this drink is much older, dating back to the Prohibition era.

“The Last Word was made in 1915 or 1916 at a club called the Detroit Athletic Club in downtown Detroit,” says Cacos, a family-owned liquor store in neighboring Birmingham, Michigan. Market,” says Joe Cacos, one of the owners. .

When people started making cocktails at home during the coronavirus pandemic, “they I was looking for a classic Old World cocktail,” he says.

According to Cacos, Chartreuse had “History and Mystery” was particularly appealing.

learn to taste

Chartreuse has become even more popular since the monks’ bombshell, but sellers like Cacos still receive limited supplies.

“Every few months I get allotted three green or yellow bottles, and that’s all I get now,” he told RFI. “I have to turn down a lot of customers.”

A photo taken on May 4, 2023 shows a bottle of Chartreuse liqueur at Le Grand restaurant in Paris.
A photo taken on May 4, 2023 shows a bottle of Chartreuse liqueur at Le Grand restaurant in Paris. © AFP – Joel Saget

“I fully support the monks,” said Kakos, despite frustration at not being able to satisfy his customers.

He even sees a positive side to its rarity.

In contrast to “Amazon everyone’s age People are learning to “measure and enjoy it all,” he says.

another spirit

of monkMeanwhile, he has diversified his activities, returning to his medieval roots as a great connoisseur of herbal medicine.

They have already begun working with three other Carthusian orders to grow, dry and commercialize herbal teas.

“Last year we carried out a pilot project in three monasteries in the Var, Ain and Aveyron regions, converting them to farmers.” Delafon said.. “The recipe is based on what the monks can grow on their land.”

Monks are moving with the times. Increasingly, this means a focus on the circular economy rather than the global economy.

Also read:

https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20230604-why-us-drinkers-are-thirsty-for-chartreuse-the-liqueur-made-by-french-carthusian-monks-degrowth Why American Drinkers Crave Chartreuse, A Liqueur Made By French Monks

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