Chartreuse, a green herbal liqueur, has skyrocketed in popularity. But monks make it and they refuse to meet demand

  • Chartreuse, a centuries-old liqueur, is made by the Carthusian order of monks in the French Alps. 
  • In 2019, the monks capped production to lower their environmental impact and focus on prayer. 
  • Now, bartenders and enthusiasts can’t find the stuff. 

Chartreuse, a centuries-old, high-alcohol content herbal liqueur, has taken off since the pandemic, but the specialized group responsible for it doesn’t want to keep up.

As home bartenders and bars clamor to add it to their rotations, the Carthusian order of monks from the French Alps that produces it is refusing to increase production, the New York Times reported

Unlike with other shortages of wines and spirits during the pandemic, the demand for Chartreuse, in both its green and yellow varieties, has not been met, leaving enthusiasts and bartenders scrounging. 

“It used to be something you could rely on being available, so I never really paid much attention to it,” Joshua Lutz, a loyal lover of the liqueur, told the Times. 

But now, he’s found himself bringing shipping boxes on vacation and other trips across the country in case he runs into some at a local liquor store. 

“Recent times have forced me into hoarding a little bit,” he told the Times.

For bartenders, the shortage means having to find workarounds and substitutes for the liqueur, a staple in an ongoing cocktail revival that began in the 2000s.

According to the New York Times, the Carthusian monks implemented a production cap in 2019, in order to limit their environmental impact, and focus more strongly on solitude and prayer

“I stand with the monks,” Tony Milici, a Queens-based bar director, told the Times. “But I am also responsible for running a sick beverage program.” 

Milici told the Times he was able to work with his local distributor to double his bar’s allocation of Chartreuse, but for many others, the liqueur will remain elusive as long as it’s popular.  

“There’s only so much Chartreuse you can make without ruining the balance of monastic life,” the Rev. Michael K. Holleran, a former monk who oversaw Chartreuse production in the 1980s, told the Times.