Is Chartreuse Having a Moment in San Francisco?

First there was Fernet, the industry drink-of-choice that took San Francisco by storm, showing up at bars around town on tap. Then there was amaro, launching a generation of spritz and negroni drinkers, with a newfound love for bitter spirits. There was sherry and vermouth, taken from the bars of Spain and showcased on bar and restaurant menus around the city. 

Now, it may be Chartreuse's turn for the spotlight in San Francisco. At least, two hot bar programs — at The Morris and The Saratoga — give good reason to believe it. 

Chartreuse is a French liqueur made from alcohol steeped with macerated flowers and herbs. It comes in two variations, green and yellow, has a sweet-spicy flavor, and is well-served by aging, which makes it an appealing spirit for collectors seeking out old bottles.

The rare spirit potential of Chartreuse is part of what's showcased at The Morris and The Saratoga. The Morris, the first restaurant from start sommelier Paul Einbund, boasts a list of 18 Chartreuses that he has personally collected over the years (including a 1940 Eau de Vie, a 2 ounce pour of which will run you $300). The restaurant's signature drink also features Chartreuse in a more entry-level form – the Chartreuse Slushy has become a must-try go-to for diners.

At The Saratoga, Chartreuse dominates the bar's extensive list of Rare and Forgotten Spirits. Here, 15 varieties includes pours from the 1920s and '30s, with some clocking in at $350-$440 per ounce. They've also got an aged Bijou, a classic gin and Chartreuse cocktail from the late 19th Century, on offer. 

Two programs may not be a trend quite yet, but considering the pedigree of these two newcomers, we wouldn't be surprised if we started seeing  a lot more Chartreuse in 2017. 

[Photo: The Morris]

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