We were a little late to the party with this libation because it really is more of a summer drink and it had just turned Autumn when we made it for the first time. BUT, didn’t bother us one iota, the Chartreuse Swizzle was just the ticket for our pre-dinner Sunday evening cocktail.
Story behind the drink? According to author James O’Bryan, “If there were a Nobel Prize for cocktails, Marcovaldo Dionysis would win one for the Chartreuse Swizzle. As a drink, it is novel to the point of being avant-garde, yet brilliant in its simplicity. Some delicious drinks are obvious—anyone can add strawberries to a Daiquiri or sub mezcal into a Negroni or something—but to take a 110 proof liqueur, made by a silent order of French monks from 132 different ingredients, and not only use it as the base spirit of a drink (already a crazy choice) and to spin that drink in a tropical direction (again, crazy), but to take something that unusual and turn it one of the most viscerally delicious cocktails in the pantheon of modern classics is worth a trip to Stockholm, to say the least. It’s way better than discovering an element.”
Prior to this adult beverage, we had never heard of Velvet Falernum. Upon a little research we found out some cocktail ingredients sound stranger than they are, and Velvet Falernum falls right into this camp. But this Caribbean cocktail ingredient is easy to love, and that we did! A staple of many tiki drinks, Falernum comes either as a sugarcane syrup or as a liqueur, spiced with clove, lime, and generally ginger and almond.
The version we used, the most widely available in liquor stores, is John D. Taylor Velvet Falernum—a low-proof liqueur (11% alc/vol, while the Chartreuse is 55% alc/vol!) with all of those classic Caribbean flavors. Due to its provenance (hailing from Barbados), Falernum is most often paired with rum, and it’s a smart combination. But this intriguingly spiced, sweet-tart liqueur is quite versatile.
Although fresh out of mint leaves, we garnished ours with a lime slice. And so it was, on an early Autumn evening we fell in love… again…
- 1 1/2 oz. Green Chartreuse
- 1/2 oz. Velvet Falernum
- 1 oz. pineapple juice, preferably fresh
- 3/4 oz. lime juice, preferably fresh
- Add ingredients to a tall glass. Add half full with crushed ice and stir or “swizzle,” which is to just agitate back and forth like a washing machine.
- Swizzle for about 7 to 10 seconds, until the glass starts to frost up, then top with more crushed ice.
- Garnish with a mint sprig and a grind of fresh nutmeg.