Enhancing The Martini
The Gin Martini with Elixir Végétal de la Grande-Chartreuse
With the gin martini, even though you only really have two ingredients and one garnish to choose from (in theory), those who love the martini always have their own recipe and nuanced approaches. I have a tendency towards the classic approach in a similar vein to bartenders Tony Conigliaro, Tony About-Ganim and Chris McMillian. This means, Plymouth or Beefeater gin and Dolin or Noilly Prat dry vermouths. I also add a few drops of either orange bitters or some recent Juniper Grapefruit bitters I made.
But on a recent trip to Paris, I picked up a bottle of Elixir Végétal de la Grande-Chartreuse. The Chartreuse website describes it as follows:
"Made by the Chartreuse Monks since 1737 according to the instructions set out in the secret manuscript given to them by Maréchal d'Estrées in 1605. The Herbal Elixir gets its unique flavour from 130 medicinal and aromatic plants and flowers. It is a cordial, a liqueur and a very effective tonic."
At a whopping 69% alcohol by volume, you aren't doing much with this beyond using a few drops. But when you do, it add a huge punch of aroma and subtle flavors. They recommend adding a few drops on a lump of sugar, but I jumped straight to adding some to a martini made with Beefeater gin, Dolin dry vermouth (in a 3:1 ratio) with a lemon twist to garnish. It's just brilliant. The herbal quality and complex undertones all come together perfectly.