Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | March 1, 2010

The Monk’s Cherry

My good friend Han is getting into the cocktail scene and it is a good thing. He sent me a good write-up of a visit to a beer and whiksey bar that’s emerging as a legit place to have some craft cocktails in San Francisco, called Elixir. I’ve never been but now I think I’ll have to put it on my list for places to check out the next time I’m in the Bay Area.

Anyway, Han was at Elixir last night and sent along details about what sounds like a great drink, The Monk’s Cherry. He got the recipe:

The Monk’s Cherry

2 oz Bulleit Bourbon
1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
4 Bourbon Bing Cherries
Fresh Lavender

Muddle 4 bourbon Bing cherries along with a bar spoon of fresh lavender (sans stems) in a mixing glass. Add ice, bourbon, vermouth, and Chartreuse. Shake and fine-strain into coupe cocktail glass. Garnish with de-stemmed bourbon cherry 1/2 sliced to sit on stem with a small spear of lavender stuck into it, as if it’s the stem.

Han writes of The Monk’s Cherry:

Naturally, it’s quite floral but the sweet, boozy cherries and lavender and chartreuse balance each other beautifully and the unique vermouth (I know you’re a fan) rounds out the slightly spicy Bulleit. Damn, it’s good! Try it if you can find some decent fresh lavender… and if you have the patience to steep some cherries in bourbon for a while (maybe you already have?). I’m definitely gonna try to add this to my repertoire.

Well Han was right – I keep batches of bourbon, rye, and maraschino cherries in my fridge for moments like this, when you just have to have some beautiful big cherries soaked with bourbon! Actually, this is one of the first and easiest things I got into in the cocktail world. It takes literally no effort to make these cherries and the bonus is you will always have some to put in your Manhattan that matches the base spirit.

In terms of The Monk’s Cherry, this looked so good I just had to try it tonight. The only problem is that I am currently sans Carpano Antica and, not surprisingly, I don’t have any fresh lavender lying around, either. So I had to improvise. Here’s what I came up with:

The Monk’s Garden

2 oz Four Roses Small Batch
1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Dolin Rouge
1 bar spoon Creme de Roses
4 Bourbon Bing Cherries

Muddle 4 bourbon Bing cherries along with a bar spoon of Creme de Roses in a mixing glass. Add ice, bourbon, vermouth, and Chartreuse. Shake and fine-strain into coupe cocktail glass. Garnish with de-stemmed bourbon cherry 1/2 sliced to sit on stem with a small spear of lavender stuck into it, as if it’s the stem.

Now, given I wasn’t using Carpano Antica, I thought a less spicy bourbon was in order. The Four Roses is still strong and rich, but it doesn’t have the same pepper as the Bulleit. It works really well with the Dolin. Creme de Roses is not available in the US, but if you’re reading this blog you can probably imagine what it is like. It’s similar to Creme de Violette, only with a rose base instead of violet. It’s sweet and oily, but not overpowering. Added here, it provides a nice floral bouquet to the cocktail. The drink is surprisingly balanced for the amount of Chartreuse here, though I’m sure a little tinkering could get this to the point where it really hums without as much of a sweet taste.

All that said, the folks at Elixir are clearly onto something with the marriage of this range of ingredients. It’s a fun cocktail – close in relation to a Manhattan, but with far more going on. Give one or both of these recipes a stir and let me know what you think.

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Responses

  1. I’m glad you and your friend like my recipe. I came up with it during an “Iron Chef” style Chartreuse cocktail competition and I won with it, beating some of the best bartenders in the city. I’ll have to try your variation as soon as I can find some Creme de Roses. By the way, when bings are in season we make it with them fresh, making the drink slightly less boozy. Cheers, H.

    • Thanks for stopping by H!

      I’ll do the same once I restock my bar on Carpano Antica & fresh lavender. It really looks great and is surprisingly balanced for how much Chartreuse is in there.

      I got my bottle of Creme de Roses from a friend who was traveling in France. It’s pretty widely available there, so if you know of anyone who’s headed to Paris soon, ask them for a favor.


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