Chartreuse: liqueur or colour

Chartreuse is an ancient and quite popular French liqueur. It is produced at the monastery, close to the city Grenoble.

History of Chartreuse


The history of the production of this liqueur begins in 1605. A legend tells that one French marshal handed over to the Cartesian monastery Grande-Chartreuse a recipe for the elixir of longevity. The monastery produced elixir for medical purposes and sold it to the inhabitants of nearby cities. In these towns, the elixir quickly became popular. The recipe was kept in secret.

Why is it so important in Catalonia

In 1903, Cartesianists were expelled from France. Their new refuge was a Catalan town Tarragona in Spain, where they also began to produce “chartreuse”. That’s why the liqueur is an integral part of the most important festival in Tarragona, called Santa Tecla. During the weeks of celebrations (Spanish people can make those crazy celebrations like nobody else in this world) chartreuse is served at every bar. It is an integral part of the local cocktail Mamadeta. Even a special glass was developed for this cocktail. Ingredients of the cocktail are yellow chartreuse, green chartreuse and citric chip. Mamedeta is a refreshing drink. It senses the acidity of the lemon. But the liqueur softens it.

In 1921, Cartesian artists opened the production of chartreuse in Marseille. Liqueur there was called “Tarragona”.

Chartreuse production

Even today, the liqueur is made from a mixture of plants and herbs that are harvested by the monks of the Grande-Chartreuse monastery. Only the French company Chartreuse Diffusion has rights to produce the liqueur with this name. The main component of chartreuse is hyssop. This plant gives the liqueur a special aftertaste. 130 other herbs are also used. Basically, all herbs are collected in the mountains near the monastery. However, several components are currently imported from Italy and Switzerland. Revenue from sales of liqueur enters into the account of the monastery fund, the share of income goes to charity.


Chartreuse has a sweet, honey, slightly mint flavour. It is used as a basis for many cocktails.

The word chartreuse is also used as a colour between yellow and green. So chartreuse is both a liqueur and a colour named after it. Sometimes we taste it during wine bars crawl.

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