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Champs Elysées – Yeah…No

Posted by Reese on 2011-05-24 @ 09:59pm

I started this week eager for a unique and interesting cocktail.  Something that was a step away from what I’ve been mixing for a while.  While I got unique and I got interesting I, sadly, did not get tasty.  The Champs Elysées is a riff on the classic sour and seems like it should be good.  And after some tweaking, and a lot of dumping out, I got it to sorta good, but certainly not something I’d ever order.  Let’s take a quick run down of the recipes and talk about the short comings of each.  A quick note before I get rolling, if I say Chartreuse it’s meant to imply green Chartreuse, yellow will be noted specially.

Champs ElyseePhoto Credit – Elisabeth Mansfield

Essential Bartender’s Guide (1 oz Brandy, 1/4 oz Chartreuse, 1 oz Lemon Juice, 1 Dash Angostura) – Holy crap this cocktail is ungood.  It’s very sour and nearly undrinkable.  I added 1/4 oz of simple in an attempt to tame the sourness and that helped, but not enough.

Erik Ellestad of Underhill-Lounge chimed in on my intro post that the original Savoy recipe (next in line) was difficult to convert to a single cocktail but suggested that he uses his standard sour recipe.  I took his advice and tried this in sour ratios (2 oz Brandy, 1 oz Lemon Juice, 1/2 oz Chartreuse, 1/2 oz Simple Syrup, 2 Dashes Angostura).  This is certainly better than the first recipe though now I was feeling the need for more sour.  I added 1/4 oz more lemon juice and found a drink that was palatable but still really lacking for me.

Savoy (1  oz Brandy, 1/3 oz Chartreuse, 1/2 oz Sweetened Lemon Juice, 1 Dash Angostura) – This recipe is the classic.  Problem is, it was originally formulated for 6 and who the hell knows what sweetened lemon juice is supposed to be.  So, I winged it.  I used 1/2 oz of lemon juice and 1 tsp of superfine sugar.  The drink was not terrible, but still far from good.  Strongly herbal with a good sweetness level.  I’d drink this one (which is a step in the right direction) but it definitely isn’t something I’d ever order.

Bartender’s Bible (2 oz Brandy, 1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse, 1/2 oz Lemon Juice, 1/2 tsp Superfine Sugar, 2 Dashes “Bitters”) – I had help from Elisabeth in tasting these and I think she summed this one up very nicely, “It smells really good, almost like an apple.  Tastes like pond scum.”  Okay, I wouldn’t go so far as to say pond scum myself, but this is still not what I’d call a great cocktail.

Difford’s #8 (1 3/4 oz Brandy, 1/4 oz Chartreuse, 1/2 oz Lemon Juice, 1/2 oz Simple Syrup, 3 Dashes Angostura, Egg White [Optional]) -  The Chartreuse being only 1/4 oz in this recipe is what saves it.  The herbal flavors are reduced allowing the brandy and lemon to shine.  Could still use a bit more lemon in my opinion, but this is getting close.

Okay, I’m seriously tired of this cocktail at this point and really hold no hopes that I’m going to be able to turn this into a winner, but I will offer you my recipe.  I followed Erik’s guidance and made it along the lines of a sour.  You’ll note it’s a lot like the Difford’s recipe, that’s no accident.  I bumped up the sour and added a bit more brandy to compensate, but left the Chartreuse subtle.  If you’re dying to make this cocktail, give this recipe a try.  I won’t make any promises that it will be delicious or that you’ll like it.  But, it will, at least, be palatable.

Champs Elysées (Cocktail Hacker)
2 oz Brandy
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
1) Combine in a shaker with ice
2) Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass

On that note, I’m moving on to something far tastier.  Care to join me?