Rather than reaching for an espresso martini next time you’re hankering for a caffeinated cocktail, consider mixing up a cozier, more complex alternative: the Chartreuse Cappuccino.
This recipe comes from the pages of a new cookbook by the Portland-based all-things-coffee publication Sprudge, called “But First Coffee: A Guide to Brewing from the Kitchen to the Bar” by Sprudge cofounders Jordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen.
They credit this recipe to their friend, Paul Einbund, the San Francisco restaurateur behind the Morris and Maison Nico. Einbund combined his knowledge about coffee with a passion for Chartreuse — an herbal French liqueur made by monks at a single distillery in the French Alps — in this drink, which pairs well with Bay Area fog and cozy sweaters for sophisticated and atmospheric sipping.
“Espresso is rude and milk is forgiving,” Einbund says in the cookbook. “When you add a little bit of sugar and Chartreuse into the mix, that’s when things get really interesting.”
Chartreuse is in the midst of a global shortage, so sourcing it may be the hardest part of preparing this recipe. While demand has risen due to home cocktail-making, the monks, who use a secret recipe from the 1600s that contains 130 botanicals, have decided not to increase their production, citing environmental concerns and a desire to focus on other aspects of monastic life like solitude and prayer.
Einbund’s recipe uses yellow Chartreuse, and doesn’t look very different from a classic cappuccino. The cookbook’s authors, however, prefer using green Chartreuse, which gives the drink a sweet, vegetal note that blends well with the espresso. To make the drink appear more green, they add a dash of matcha powder — about 3/4 teaspoon — to the milk mixture before steaming.
Note: This recipe requires an espresso machine steam wand.
Makes 1 drink (8 ounces)
1 ounce yellow or green Chartreuse
4 ounces whole milk or alternative milk of your choice
1 teaspoon palm sugar syrup or Demerara sugar syrup
3/4 teaspoon matcha powder, optional
1 espresso shot (1.5 ounces or 3 tablespoons)
Add the Chartreuse, milk, palm sugar syrup and matcha powder (if using) to a steaming pitcher for milk. Steam the mixture using the steam wand on your espresso machine. You’re looking for traditional cappuccino foam here — frothy and not too wet. You will notice that the steamed milk is fragrant from the sugar and Chartreuse, which is very much the point.
Pull a shot of espresso and pour it into a cappuccino cup. Pour the steamed milk mixture over the espresso and serve immediately.
— Reprinted with permission from “But First, Coffee: A Guide to Brewing from the Kitchen to the Bar” by Jordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen (Union Square & Co., $20).