Quarantine Cocktails, Chartreuse Edition

In these times of quarantine, we are passing the time with cocktails, board games, books, and baking. But we don’t want to drink up all of the whiskey right away, so we are turning to less-used bottles and getting creative.

This week? Chartreuse!

Yellow or Green? Whichever you have. Yellow is a little sweeter, lower proof, and less bitter than Green, but both are delicious.

The most well known Chartreuse cocktail is the Last Word. The bad thing is that I don’t have any citrus, and I bet few of you do, either. So I got to work digging through books and asking bartenders I respect on Twitter what their favorite Chartreuse drinks are. Here are three that don’t need citrus, plus notes on variations.


Widow’s Kiss

I know, not a great name for the current time. But that is what it is called.

This is a classic cocktail from the 1895 Modern American Drinks by George J. Kappeler. It is considered a digestif, so drink it after dinner.


  • No Benedictine? Double the Yellow Chatreuse.
  • No Calvados? Apple Jack will work, too.

Here is one I made last night:





The Bijou is another classic!



Oh My Word


This is essentially a Last Word without lime juice. Introduced to me by Sother Teague.


  • I don’t have lime bitters, so I’m using rhubarb bitters
  • No Amaro Montenegro? Try Amaro Nonino
  • No Old Tom gin? Or any gin will work. (But if you want to make your own Old Tom, add some simple syrup to regular dry gin and age it in a barrel for a week.)



Have a bottle of liquor that you don’t know how to use? Email me at chuck@grimmett.co with what you have on-hand and I’ll brainstorm some ideas with you!

Negroni Week is Coming. Age Your Negronis Now.

Negroni Week (June 4-10) starts in five days.

I remembered this morning and mixed up 500ml of my favorite equal parts cocktail in a glass flask and dropped in a charred oak stick.

To prepare for the celebration next week, check out some of my other Negroni-related posts:

Review of The One-Bottle Cocktail by Maggie Hoffman

I picked up The One-Bottle Cocktail by Maggie Hoffman when it came out at the beginning of March. Each cocktail recipe in the book only contains a single spirit, so you only need one bottle to make a cocktail. I loved it so much that I sent a copy to my friends Tyler Machovina and Erin Carlson, who garden and make cocktails as much as we do. (They had significant input on this post!)

This book is great for home cocktail makers. How many times do you say, “I have a bottle of gin. What else can I make besides a G&T?” or “What can I do with this tequila besides more margaritas?”

I love cocktails. I write about them a lot here. The reason I love this book is that it taught me a new way of looking at them: Focus on the non-alcoholic ingredients primarily for the flavor (fresh juices, spices, herbs, fruit, and teas) instead of liquors. I’ve learned a ton from this book about which flavors work together, how certain flavors interact with certain liquors, and how much the flavor of certain herbs and fruits can vary from plant to plant and piece to piece.

The other thing I love about this book is that it has bonus drinks at the end of each section, noting where you can substitute the same liquor from that section into other drinks in the book.

So far, our favorite cocktails are The Gincident, Barkeep’s Breakfast, and Midnight in the Garden.

The Gincident

It isn’t quite blueberry season here, but we had some wild blueberries in the freezer and we have fresh basil and rosemary growing in pots on our windowsills. The botanicals in the gin, fresh basil, and fresh rosemary give it a deep forest flavor, and the blueberry syrup balances out the tart lemon juice. This cocktail is fantastic. Amanda requested that we make this a new house regular.


Barkeep’s Breakfast

I love Earl Grey, so this stood out to me immediately. I went a little off-recipe, though. Instead of using Rye, I used barrel-aged gin as the base spirit. I had a bottle from a Hudson Valley Distillers (http://www.hudsonvalleydistillers.com/) that I’d been itching to use, and I had a hunch that the botanicals might work well with Earl Grey. I was right. This was a great drink for a cold day.


Midnight in the Garden

I think this drink will be fantastic in the summer when the local strawberries come in. The late-winter grocery store strawberries just weren’t sweet enough to properly balance the balsamic vinegar. My fault for not having the patience to wait until summer to try this. Definitely making this again as soon as we get fresh strawberries.


Erin and Tyler liked Newton’s Law and Rose of all Roses. Here is what they had to say:

Newton’s Law

Even though it’s a little out of season we chose to make the Newton’s law because we had all the ingredients and were so excited to try something out of our new cocktail book. Also, I used the last of the apple butter that Chuck and Amanda gave us for Christmas! Overall, this a tasty drink but was a little bit thin. If I were to make it again I’d probably use maple syrup instead of brown sugar. I think it give it a thicker mouthfeel, so something to keep in mind when the fall rolls around.

Isn’t the pictured dish towel fantastic? Erin makes them. Check her work out on Instagram.


Rose of all Roses

This is a great drink! I used Aviation gin, my favorite for martinis, but I think this drink would be even better with Hendricks. It was pretty cold out when I made these, but I’m looking forward to remembering this drink for afternoon barbecue. (Kiko approves.)

Back to Chuck:

The next cocktails I want to try: Newton’s Law, Sassy Flower, French Canadian, and Spanish Penny. We’re looking forward to drinking our way through the rest of this book. It will really be great this spring and summer when we will have easy access to edible flowers and herbs. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, you need to.

Mocktails that Don’t Suck

Nolan Morehouse asks:

I want to make some mocktails. Any recipes that you recommend?

My response:


What I dislike about most mocktails is that they tend to be cloyingly sweet. What I tried to do with this list below is find complex mocktails with some bitter elements, herbal notes, and tartness, while staying away from the overly sweet things that people try to pass off as mocktails. The best real cocktails aren’t overly sweet, so the best mocktails shouldn’t be, either.

  1. Vinegar Shrubs – https://cooklikechuck.com/2017/03/blackberry-honey-and-vinegar-shrub/

  2. Pomegranate mulled ‘wine’ – http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/03/zero-proof-mulled-pomegranate-wine-mocktails-alcohol-free-winter-cocktails.html

  3. Moscow Mule Mocktail – Add mint! http://themerrythought.com/diy/moscow-mule-mocktail/

  4. French 75 Mocktail – http://www.alwaysorderdessert.com/2014/12/french-75-mocktail-non-alcoholic.html

  5. Non-alcoholic Sangria – https://simpleveganblog.com/non-alcoholic-sangria/

  6. Non-Alcoholic mojito – https://mixthatdrink.com/nojito-cocktail-non-alcoholic/

  7. Shisho Fine – http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/05/shiso-fine-nonalcoholic-mocktail-mint-cucumber-shiso-vinegar.html

  8. Fig and Balsamic Soda – http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/08/homemade-fig-balsamic-soda-recipe.html

  9. Non-alcoholic Rhubarb Lime Gimlet – http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/04/alcohol-free-cocktail-rhubarb-lime-gimlet-variation-mocktail-drink-recipe.html

  10. Orange, Rosewater, and Mint Sparkler – http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/01/alcohol-free-cocktail-orange-rosewater-mint-sparkler-mocktail-recipe.html

Nolan did a write up afterward of making a few of these mocktails! Here is Nolan:

I chose two from a list of mocktails Chuck gave me; They were the Moscow Mule and the vinegar shrubs.

First I started with the Moscow Mule. It used lime juice, ginger beer, and sparkling water, and I also bought a copper mug to serve it in. The drink was delicious and very sour, and the ginger made a great pairing with the lime. It was fun to make and GREAT to drink. Here’s how it turned out:
Next, I decided I’d make the shrubs too. I haven’t gotten to taste it yet because it’s still sitting in my fridge to form. It used blackberries, honey, and apple cider vinegar, and a mason jar to hold it. Making it was quick and easy, and I’m very excited to try it. Here’s how it looks so far:
Making them was a lot of fun, and makes me excited to continue making mocktails. Thanks for the list, Chuck!

Making Cocktails For a Group While Traveling

The entire Praxis team got together in Charleston for a few days of caffeine-fueled work last week. I was in charge of two meals and cocktails for our evening brainstorming sessions. I needed cocktails that:

  1. Are easy to make. Waiting for drinks is no fun.
  2. Have common ingredients that you can source at most liquor stores.
  3. Will appeal to 10 people with varying tastes.
  4. Are budget friendly (i.e. a few bottles that can make multiple cocktails).
  5. Don’t need a shaker or strainer.

Our rental house had rocks glasses and an ice machine, but no juicer, strainer, or shaker. I threw my favorite jigger in my bag right before I left, so I was covered there.

I went to the local liquor store and bought Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, Campari, simple syrup, and orange bitters.

With these ingredients, I could make:

I chose these cocktails is that they are all stirred, can be built in the glass, and suit a variety of tastes (bitter, sweet, complex). None of these cocktails need squeezed juices, which saved us time and energy.

When it came time to make drinks and do our marketing/branding brainstorm session, half of the crew wanted Old Fashioneds and half wanted Boulevardiers, three of whom had never had Campari before. Nothing makes me happier than introducing people to amaro for the first time!

I lined the glasses up on the table in two groups and built each drink right in the glass. For Old Fashioneds, I added bitters and simple syrup to each glass, filled the glasses with ice, then added bourbon and stirred. For the Boulevardiers, I added bitters to each glass, filled them with ice, added the vermouth, Campari, and bourbon, then stirred. A coworker helped me serve everyone at the same time so no one’s ice melted while they were waiting for someone else to have a drink. The whole process took less than five minutes.

Here we all are:

How do I use Fernet Branca?

I’m starting a new column here on Cook Like Chuck. My friends ask me a lot of questions about food and drink, so I’m going to post some of my replies here. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer, send them to chuck@grimmett.co!

I made a poor decision and bought Fernet Branca. I’ve only been able to come up with one passable recipe and even that wasn’t amazing. Help! -Jonathan

Here is my response:

Fernet Branca is best consumed after dinner as a digestif, served neat in a small sherry or cordial glass. It takes some time to go through a bottle that way, and it takes some time to acquire the taste, but once you do it is exquisite. This is my preferred consumption method. Also, I’ll often order Fernet if I’m the DD because while it is ~40% alcohol, I can’t drink enough to get buzzed off of it. I just nurse it for a while and drive safely.

Three cocktails I like Fernet Branca in are the Midtown Manhattan, the Toronto, and the Decolletage.

The first two are in the Manhattan family and use Fernet in place of sweet vermouth, and both have something to sweeten it up and round out the bitter side of Fernet.

The Decolletage mixes three different amari with a briny backbone of reposado tequila. It is wonderful. I made myself one while I wrote this piece.

Here are the recipes:

You can also add a splash of Fernet to your hot chocolate! I’d probably add a few dashes of orange bitters, too. That’s how I roll.

If you want to try something really interesting, the folks over at Shaker and Spoon have a Valentine’s Day special going on with the Slippery Slopes cocktail from Sother Teague at Amor y Amargo. It has cold brew, hot cocoa mix, Fernet Branca, toasted coconut syrup, and a spritz of orange oil.

Send me your questions and I’ll do my best to answer them! chuck@grimmett.co

Tipple Tuesday: Hot Toddy

Amanda and I have had a cold all week, complete with a runny nose, sore throat, and cough. We got sick of NyQuil’s taste, but still wanted something to soothe our throats and knock us out before bed. Hot Toddys were just the thing we wanted in this cold weather.

I use whatever whiskey I have on hand. This week we used up a bunch of different types of bourbon and rye that just had a few ounces left in each bottle. You can probably use brandy or rum if you have some you are itching to use up. Hot Toddys are a great way to clean out your liquor cabinet.


  • 2 oz Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Honey (we get our honey locally, which helps us deal with local allergens)
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz Allspice Dram
  • 6 oz Boiling Water

Stir whiskey, honey, lemon juice, and allspice dram in a mug and top with boiling water. Garnish with a lemon peel. You can forgo the allspice dram if you don’t have any on hand. Cinnamon sticks make a nice substitute.

5 Barrel Aged Cocktail Recipes

One of the gifts I’m giving to a family member this Christmas is a 2L charred American Oak cocktail aging barrel.

Here are 5 cocktail recipe options I scaled up to 2L to go along with the barrel. All of these cocktails age very well. You can’t go wrong with any of them!

One thing to note about these recipes: I only age the liquor in the barrel. I add sugars/sweeteners and bitters directly to the glass before mixing in the aged liquor for two reasons: 1) Sugars don’t really mix in or age well, and they have a shorter shelf life. 2) Bitters don’t scale up linearly like the liquor does.

Tipple Tuesday: Benedictine & Brandy

Today’s tipple is a simple 1:1 combination. I hesitate to even call it a cocktail. But it is delicious and a wonderful complement to your holiday cheer.

Making the drink is simple: Pour equal parts Benedictine and Brandy into a snifter. Done!

Tasting notes: Warming, herbal, and sweet, with notes of honey, rosemary, nutmeg, sage, anise, and orange peel.

Most liquor stores carry a pre-mixed version of this called B&B, but you should skip out on that and mix it yourself. This lets you pick your brandy of choice, which you can also enjoy on its own or in another wonderful holiday cocktail, the Brandy Alexander. And you’ll have leftover Benedictine to make Vieux Carres.

What’s Aging Next: Vieux Carré

I bottled my barrel aged Manhattans so that I can move on to aging the next thing: Vieux Carré. It is a classic New Orleans cocktail named after the French name for the Old Square (the French Quarter.)

At its core, the Vieux Carré is a Manhattan variation. The addition of cognac makes it slighly sweeter with a deeper caramel and oak flavor. Two different varieties of bitters and the herbal Benedictine cut the sweetness of the cognac and vermouth to give it dimension. If you use a high proof rye, this is a boozy cocktail that you’ll want to sip.

I had a three week aged Vieux Carre at Harper’s in Dobbs Ferry last winter and loved it. The individual components seem to take on aging well, so I think it will be a great follow-up to the Manhattans I did earlier in the year.

Here is the recipe for a single drink:


Here is how I’m scaling it for my barrel and what I’m using:

  • 1 bottle (25.36 oz) of Rittenhouse Rye. This is my favorite rye. It is pretty strong at 100 proof.
  • 1 bottle (25.36 oz) of Carpano Antica sweet vermouth. None better!
  • 1 bottle (25.36 oz) of Darvelle Freres VSOP. This is a mid-range French brandy with lots of caramel and spice aromas. Great for mixing.
  • 3 oz of Benedictine

Just like with the Manhattan, I’m not adding the bitters directly to the barrel. I’ll put them in the mixing glass with the ice and then pour in the liquor from the tap.

I plan on aging this for two months. While I’m patiently waiting for it to age, I’ll probably make another batch of maraschino cherries, with a more syrupy liquid this time so that they are closer to Luxardo cherries. I’ll let you know how it goes!