Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Vampires, Vermouth, and the Dirty South

I'm a vampire buff.  I have a thing for zombies too, but I'll get into that in a week or so... today is all about those sexy, sleazy, bloodsuckers and the hoomans (me) who love them.

True Blood is one of my favorite shows: honestly, I could live without Sookie and her incessant whining, but then every show needs a bad guy... Mostly, I love the snarky writing, colorful chararcters (Lafayette and the mercilessly smart-mouthed vamper, Pam) and the endless parade of man-candy: nary an episode passes without one of the many attractive male leads parading around shirtless. Life is hard, get a helmet!

Recently, the show returned for it's fifth season and it couldn't come fast enough! Personally, I think it promises to be the most exciting season yet... Anyway, it put me in the mood to finally try a cocktail I've been dancing around since stumbling across it on CocktailDB (if you haven't checked out the site, you should: Martin Doudoroff and Ted  "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh have done an amazing job collecting thousands of recipes both old and new in one place.)  It at first reminded me of my beloved Mahattan, but on closer inspection it's more like a negroni...  The name comes from the French word for 'jewel,' and perhaps comes from the use of the bright green color of the chartreuse? With a name like the Bijou, and the herbaceous notes of the chartreuse there to enhance the vermouth, it put me immediately in mind of the wild woods around Bon Temps...

Bijou Cocktail

1-1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz green chartreuse
1/2 Sweet Vermouth
1 dash orange bitters

Stir in a mixing glass or tin with ice and strain into a cocktial glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.
(photo from

I didn't immediately fall in love with it; I thought it was a little too strong on the 'musty' flavor- to be fair, though, I admit that I've have my sweet vermouth around and open for awhile- okay, 3 or 4 months- so that may very well have something to do with it.  I really ought to get one of those vacuum pump stopper kits precisely to keep my vermouth stash fresher for far longer.  That said, I'll probably give the drink another try before long.

While it may not have been an instant favorite, though, I will say that the Bijou definitely had bite ;) Now if I could just find my own 1,000 year old undead viking, life would be good...


Arthur said...

With the aid of a friend, I have now had this cocktail with three different Chartreuses (and two gins). I'll have to find out the names of his Chartreuses for you; one was in a brown bottle and the other came in a small, bitters-like bottle. He used New Amsterdam for its orange-infused flavor; I had Tanqueray Rangpur on hand at home as a close equivalent.

Oddly, I'd say New Amsterdam was the better gin, and his large brown bottle Chartreuse was delightful with it -- though he also had one of the fancy silicone ice trays with the large ice cubes for less water in the cocktail.

All in all, delightful. Definitely recommend doing it with New Amsterdam if you can.

Colleen said...

Howdy Arthur! I've had Amsterdam before, but hadn't thought of using it in something like this... I'll have to give it a shot *badum chhh!*

Please do share the bottling of your friend's chartreuse when you think of it: I'd love to try some other varieties :)

Arthur said...

Had I known it was all on the Wikipedia page for Chartreuse, I would have been able to just tell you in the first place. I didn't realize they were all prepared by the same monks.

So, then -- the first one he made was New Amsterdam with Elixir Végétal de la Grande-Chartreuse, in a small bitters-like bottle (shown on the wiki page). He removed the bitters, I believe, and shifted the proportions, as this one was strong and the flavor of the chartreuse was more herbal and less sweet. The second one with New Amsterdam used Chartreuse VEP -- he warned me that this one was very expensive. It was much sweeter and perhaps the best balanced. Both of his used Dolin Rouge for the sweet vermouth, and Regan's Orange bitters for the one with the VEP.

Finally, mine was Tanqueray Rangpur + Green Chartreuse, Tribuno sweet vermouth, and Regan's Orange bitters again. I do wonder if the regular Green Chartreuse would have been better highlighted with the Dolin Rouge and the New Amsterdam.

Colleen said...

Ah yes, the VEP! I have drooled over it at my local Binny's, but I haven't been able to justify the price yet- too many other things I'd like to get in my cabinet first! I've been meaning to try both of the Dolin vermouths; I've been using less expensive varieties, and feel confident enough making Manhattans to try something nicer...

Once I pick some up, I'll have to try the Bijou again (with New Amsterdam, too) and follow up accordingly :)