egg noodles and pork ragout were one outgrowth of that nostalgia. Another has been hot chocolate spiked with Chartreuse.
The Pères Chartreux — the Carthusian monks who make Chartreuse — currently make several varieties of spirits, including genepi, walnut and fruit liqueurs. Although an 80 proof yellow version of their famous herbal liqueur is available, the monks’ green Chartreuse is most commonly mixed into drinks. At 110 proof, this ancient liqueur packs a punch and lends lovely vegetal notes to drinks. Since moving to California, I have never been without a bottle of the green. Never. The yellow? Harder to find on store shelves here.
I was prodded to add Chartreuse to hot chocolate on reading Madeline Scherb’s A Taste of Heaven. The book is part travel guide and part cookbook of meals one may find in abbeys — and convents — around the world. Given the brewing and distilling/rectifying traditions of many monasteries, it’s not surprising that abbey beers and a few liqueurs show up in recipes; beer soup with Achel, chicken livers over apples with an Orval reduction, caramelized bananas with Westmalle tripel and dark rum.
Chartreuse is such an assertive spirit that I can identify it by smell even from several feet away. I happen to love the smell and the taste. If you’re not certain you will, don’t use the whole amount called for below. Instead, start with less. If you like it, add more. Scherb calls this Christmas Cocoa. I’ve tweaked her proportions just a bit, but I say there’s no need to restrict it to Christmas.
Chartreuse Hot Chocolate
8-12 oz good quality hot chocolate
1 oz green Chartreuse (or less, see above)
Warm a mug with hot water. Toss the water and pour the hot chocolate into the warmed mug. Add green Chartreuse and stir. Breathe deeply as you drink. Let the aroma get into your lungs. Not the drink, of course. Chartreuse is fantastic, but there's no call to drown in the stuff.
Madeline Scherb (2009)
A Taste of Heaven: A Guide to Food and Drink Made by Monks and Nuns
240 pages, paperback