You may recall, from last week’s post, that I taunted you briefly with mention of the Chartreuse Swizzle, also known as the official drink of our trip to San Francisco. I am a hardcore Chartreuse fan; truly, I think it is one of the more ambrosial delights of the liquor cabinet and burn through bottles at a pace that makes my wallet whimper in protest. Long before I ever discovered the Swizzle, I would order the evocatively named and magically delicious Swamp Water at the Tiki-Ti. Nothing more than green Chartreuse mixed with pineapple juice, the complexity of the spirit makes it far more than the sum of its parts.
Fast forward a few years and here we are with the Chartreuse Swizzle, a more complex and, as though it were possible, more delightful extension of that thought. Swizzles are a class of drinks—essentially punches—usually made with rum, citrus juice and a sweetener such as falernum, mixed via the use of a swizzle stick. These long, multi-pronged stirrers are placed into a glass filled with spirits and cracked ice and rubbed between the palms to create agitation or “swizzling.” Traditionally swizzle sticks were taken from the branches of the Swizzlestick Tree, found in many of the equatorial rum-producing countries, but these days you can buy them made from all kinds of materials.
Credit for this lovely swizzle variation goes to Marco Dionysos of Clock Bar in San Francisco (whose name you’d remember from the Cunningham). We’ve had unseasonably (and unreasonably) hot weather the past few days and I can vouch for the fact that a tall swizzle—especially this one—is good for whatever ails you.
1¼ oz green Chartreuse
½ oz falernum
1 oz pineapple juice
¾ oz lime juice
Swizzle with crushed ice (or shake with ice and strain over crushed ice) in a tall glass. Garnish with a spring of mint and fresh nutmeg.
So what further praise can I possibly heap on this drink to get you to try it? It’s not terribly sweet, with only half an ounce of falernum, and plenty of tartness coming through the juices. The Chartreuse itself lends some sweetness and the herbal qualities of the liqueur are nicely mellowed when mixed with the falernum spice. It’s both easy and challenging to drink; on one hand it tastes great and on the other it isn’t anywhere near as “tropical” as its name suggests. Words aren’t sufficient on this one—go make it for yourself. You won’t be sorry.