The Yellowjacket is a Bees Knees riff that brings a burst of herbal flavor to this classic gin cocktail.
Yellow Chartreuse adds sweetness, booziness, and herbal intensity with its complex blend of 130 flowers and other botanicals.
What is Chartreuse?
Chartreuse can refer to two liqueurs (one green and one yellow), famously made by Carthusian monks in France. The original Chartreuse is a vibrant and potent green liqueur made with sugar, alcohol, and a secret blend of 130 plants.
Chartreuse has a wild history that dates back to 1605 and a mysterious recipe for a longevity elixir. The original recipe was modified in
The yellow variety is a little sweeter and more mild with a slightly lower ABV. In general, Chartreuse is a powerful, uniquely flavored liqueur that holds its own in cocktails.
Yellow Chartreuse is herbal with flavors of honey, flowers, and spice. The best way to describe either variety of Chartreuse is unusual. And intriguing. And tasty!
About the Bees Knees
The Bees Knees is a classic, pre-Prohibition cocktail from the days of bathtub gin.
Gin in those days was pretty awful, so a little lemon and honey were needed to make drinking it palatable.
Although it was born from necessity, it just so happens that the combination of citrus and honey are perfect with tasty modern gins too.
With its bright citrus and floral honey flavors, the Bees Knees is a quintessential spring cocktail. The Yellowjacket takes those flavors to the next level by replacing some of the honey syrup with the herbal punch of yellow Chartreuse.
- Yellow Chartreuse
- Honey syrup
What gin to use?
I love a traditional London dry gin for this recipe. However, if you’re fond of more modern or floral gins, this is a fun recipe to try them in.
Just be aware that the Chartreuse can easily overpower subtle flavors. Very floral or delicate gins might be better suited to the classic Bees Knees, where those mild flavors will really be able to shine.
I recommend Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, or Beefeater Gin. For a very unique twist, try it with Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin.
There are many ways to make honey syrup, but I typically prefer to make a honey simple syrup.
Not heating the syrup ensures that the syrup will taste consistent from batch to batch, as no water has been cooked off.
It also preserves the honey’s natural antioxidant and potentially immune-supporting properties. And I like to preserve those raw honey benefits, even if the syrup is just going to be mixed into a cocktail. Learn how to make honey syrup.
What else can you do with Yellow Chartreuse?
Probably the best known modern cocktail to feature Yellow Chartreuse is the Naked and Famous. It blends smoky mezcal with equal parts lime juice, Aperol, and the milder Chartreuse.
Another famous Yellow Chartreuse cocktail is the old school Alaska, made with an easy mix of gin, Chartreuse, and orange bitters.
Yellow Chartreuse is an interesting bottle to mix with because although it’s a sweet liqueur, it’s also very strong at 80 proof. This makes it a versatile ingredient to have in your home bar.
It can even be used as a base spirit in cocktails like the Piña Verte, a piña colada riff made with green Chartreuse.
You might also enjoy these other gin cocktails:
- 2 oz gin (I used Malfy con Limone)
- ½ oz Yellow Chartreuse
- 1 oz lemon juice
- ½ oz honey syrup (recipe in Notes below)
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill it 3/4 with ice.
- Shake until chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a lemon twist.