What can’t Chartreuse do? we asked with a mix of admiration and alarm earlier this year. We had just learned that the herbal liqueur would soon be under limited production. “Be reasonably priced,” wrote one commenter in response to the question. “Stay in stock,” answered another.
In the ensuing months, finding a bottle has only gotten more difficult, its absence felt especially hard by superfans, of which there are many: those who have served it on tap, ushered it into every cocktail template from the Piña Colada to the flip, and even taken recipe inspiration from the night routines of the Carthusian monks who produce the liqueur. How are its biggest fans handling the Chartreuse shortage?
For Estelle Bossy, the New York–based beverage director whose signature L’Alaska hinges on the liqueur, “having Chartreuse-adjacent bottles was a part of my plan for Le Rock’s backbar before we even opened, as I knew the monks were at production capacity,” she says. The menu “was designed to both express our wild infatuation with Chartreuse and balance our consumption by spreading that love to other herbal liqueurs.” That means featuring a range of options under the “Herbals & Elixirs” section of Le Rock’s menu, including everything from other historic expressions, like Combier Élicser and Bordiga Centum Herbis, to more obscure options, like Glep Amaro di Erbe Grinta, and contemporary bottlings such as Forthave Yellow, a domestic take on génépy.
While there’s no exact replica for Chartreuse, Le Rock does approximate its flavor in cocktails: For an upcoming event this fall, for example, Bossy plans to serve her Bijou Blanc with a house blend of equal parts Faccia Brutto Centerbe and Dolin Génépy le Chamois standing in its place. (At the restaurant and bar, though, both the Bijou Blanc and L’Alaska are still made with Chartreuse.)
A thousand miles away in Oxford, Mississippi, Bar Muse likewise has been impacted by the shortages. According to owner Joseph Stinchcomb, it can be difficult to “capture the depth of flavor that Chartreuse has,” but the bar, which has at least one Chartreuse cocktail on each of its revolving menus, has made some pivots.
Replacements inherently change the makeup of a drink, and while Stinchcomb recommends subbing a favorite amaro or herbal liqueur into cocktails made with Chartreuse, expect the resulting drinks to read more like variations on the classics. Bar Muse currently has a Last Word riff on the menu, for example, made with Bénédictine for the liqueur portion.
Ultimately, “it’s impossible to replicate the complexity of Chartreuse, especially that subtle, but persistent, anise note,” says Bossy. But by identifying what aspect of the liqueur you want to introduce into the drink, you can channel its essence. Going for herbaceous and alpine? Génépy is a good bet. Spiced, with subtle sweetness? Turn to Strega—and so on. “The best alternative,” Bossy notes, “will depend on the cocktail’s construction itself.”
Here’s how to get started.