Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chartreuse: The Famous Green Liquor and Saint Bruno

Chartreuse: The Famous Green Liquor and Saint Bruno:

Chartreuse is that famous French liqueur made by Carthusian Monks. The founder of the Carthusians was Saint Bruno, an amazingly dedicated man who sought Christ in all things.

In 1084, Saint Bruno and six of his companions, he presented themsleves to St Hugh of Châteauneuf, Bishop of Grenoble, who installed them in a deserted location called Chartreuse, not far from Grenoble. Here they built a monastery for their life of prayer, poverty, and study.

The monks began producing a spicy liquor (it contains 130 herbs!!!) of the same name "Chartreuse" in the 1700s.

It's fantastic greenish color also gave name to the color "Chartreuse."

Although I never met my paternal grandfather, I understand that he favored this liquor.

The origin of the liquor is interesting. Around 1605, a French marshal of King Henry IV, named François Hannibal d'Estrées, presented the Carthusian monks with a manuscript recipe for an "elixir of life." The French name "Elixir Végétal de la Grande Chartreuse" comes from this manuscript. The recipe includes 130 herbs suspended in an alcohol base fermented from grape. The monks brewed this potion as a medicine and reached its current version in 1737 under the oversight of Brother Jerome Maubec.

Here's a dutiful Carthusian monk performing his divinely inspired chemistry for the sake of the green elixer:

There is also yellow version which is flavored with saffron.

So celebrate Saint Bruno and the Carthusians and enjoy a cocktail with Chartreuse.

One of these days, I'd like to do a study and post on the religious origins of various wines, beers, and liquors.



PS: The Catholic influence of Chartreuse is also witnessed to in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.. Anthony and the Charles Ryder drink Chartreuse after dinner. Anthony muses that it's "Real G-g-green Chartreuse, made before the expulsion of the monks. There are five distinct tastes as it trickles over the tongue. It is like swallowing a sp-spectrum."

No comments:

Post a Comment