Chartreuse, Carthusian Monks, and “the fig”

My curiosity with Chartreuse began with the breed of my cat, Smokey, who was a Chartreux. There exists a lovely old legend that the Chartreux cat lived with, and were named for, the Carthusian monks of France.

Image Credit, left to right:,

Image Credit, left to right:,

As the story goes, deep in a monastery shrouded by the cover of the Chartreuse Mountains in France, two monks concoct an intoxicating elixir whose recipe is known only to them. The history of this elixir stretches back over hundreds of years through turbulent history and troubled times.

The beverage has persevered and is still available today for public consumption. Few think to order it or seek out its exquisite and pungent taste, but it still maintains a cult following. We use it in cocktails at the girl & the fig. We also offer it straight, which for some palettes may be too strong. I drink it straight in the winter, but on a warm summer day I prefer it on the rocks with some soda and lime. It’s the perfect aperitif to stimulate the palette.


The monks now create two types of Chartreuse at present day~the yellow variety and the green variety. The green is not only more popular but also a tad more potent. The yellow is much softer and has gentler flavors and aromas. So, try something new the next time you’re in the restaurant–you may find that you are pleasantly surprised!