The Bijou cocktail lives up to its French name as a beautiful, distinctly delicious jewel. Its dominant flavor comes from green Chartreuse, an ancient liqueur with roots in the 15th century.
Chartreuse was created at a monastery of the same name in a Paris suburb and today’s formula was finalized in 1840 at 110 proof. It is the only naturally green colored liqueur and made using 130 plants and flowers in a secret mixture known only by two monks.
The original recipe, taken from the Savoy cocktail manual calls for equal parts of the ingredients using Plymouth gin. Plymouth is the oldest gin distillery in England, established in 1793 and made with seven botanicals. It has a smooth, creamy flavor easily distinguished by the juniper and lemon at 82.4 proof.
Together with an equal part of sweet vermouth and touch of orange bitters it creates a bold herbal drink. It’s not for the faint-hearted, and if you love distinctive flavors, this cocktail is made for you. However, if you possess a modern, more delicate palate there is another recipe. It’s softer and more approachable than the original.
I like both, depending on mood and circumstance.