Chartreuse and citrus sparkle in this little-known charmer
We’re transitioning to autumn in our part of the world. And looking for a predinner drink, of course.
Hence, The Cloister Cocktail – a gin-based palate cleanser with bright citrus and sharp Chartreuse.
Never heard of it? Most people haven’t. But we need to change that.
Because a drink this good shouldn’t be, well, cloistered away.
Recipe: The Cloister Cocktail
The Cloister is reminiscent of the Alaska Cocktail or maybe the Last Word Cocktail. Which makes sense, because all of them are gin-based and feature Chartreuse. But the Cloister has stronger citrus notes, making its flavor a bit softer.
We learned about this drink from reading Robert Hess, and this is his recipe.
This recipe makes one drink. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare.
- 1½ ounces dry gin
- ½ ounce yellow Chartreuse (can substitute green; see Notes)
- ½ ounce unsweetened white grapefruit juice (see Notes)
- ¼ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ ounce simple syrup
- lemon twist for garnish (optional)
- Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake until the contents are well chilled (about 20 seconds).
- Strain into a cocktail glass, preferably one that has been chilled. Add garnish, if desired, and serve.
- If you prefer, you can serve this drink over ice in a rocks (Old-Fashioned) glass. But we like the way it looks when served straight up.
- Chartreuse liqueur comes in both green and yellow versions. Green Chartreuse (which lends its name to the color chartreuse) has a more assertive flavor than the yellow iteration.
- Most people don’t have both green and yellow Chartreuse on hand (though we’re cocktail crazed, so of course we do). If you have only green – and if you don’t want to buy a bottle of yellow just to make this drink – go ahead and substitute green. Use about half as much Chartreuse as the recipe calls for (maybe a touch more). The flavor of the cocktail will be somewhat different, but still good.
- Chartreuse is a bit on the sweet side, with a strong herbal flavor. It’s extremely pungent, so a little goes a long way in cocktails.
- Chartreuse was developed by Carthusian monks during the 1730s in Voiron (southeastern France, close to Grenoble and the French Alps).
- Any good-quality London-style dry gin works in this drink (almost every gin you’re likely to see is London-style dry gin). If in doubt, ask your friendly liquor store personnel for a recommendation.
- Always use unsweetened white grapefruit juice in this drink. The pink stuff is too sweet (and the wrong color). Fresh-squeezed juice is always best, but canned or bottled works perfectly well.
- Remember that grapefruit can react negatively with some prescription medications (such as statins). So check with your doctor or pharmacist if in doubt.
- What’s the history of this cocktail? No one really knows. Robert Hess discovered it when reading the 2005 edition of Stewart Walton’s The Bartender’s Guide to Cocktails & Mixed Drinks. Hess managed to trace the drink back to a reference in the 1975 edition of Playboy’s Host & Bar Book by Thomas Mario. But anything earlier than that? No joy.
Welcome to the Club
“Refreshing,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Not to mention delish.”
“Hard to believe this drink isn’t better known,” I said. “Maybe we should start a Cloister Club to sing its praises.”
“Yup,” said Mrs K R. “Our motto could be ‘The World is our Cloister.’”
Or maybe we’re just not clubbable.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Last Word Cocktail
Champs Élysées Cocktail
Or check out the index for more