Bijou Cocktail

The Bijou cocktail is an impressive classic cocktail! Its name evokes glittering jewels: gin for diamond, vermouth for ruby and Chartreuse for emerald.

Bijou Cocktail

Looking for a unique classic cocktail to impress? Try the Bijou cocktail! This drink is named for the colors of glittering jewels of the three liquors that make it up. It’s been around for over a century, with a spirit-forward flavor that’s crisp and herbaceous. Take one sip and you’ll be reminded of a Manhattan. But it’s even more interesting, with an herbal undertone to the finish. This one is full of surprises: and all your guests will be impressed. Here’s how to make the Bijou!

What’s a Bijou cocktail?

The Bijou cocktail is a classic cocktail featuring gin, sweet vermouth, and chartreuse. The father of modern bartending himself, Harry Johnson, invented the drink in the 1890’s. He named it for the colors of jewels represented by the liquors: clear gin for diamond, red for vermouth, and green for chartreuse (bijoux means jewels in French).

The Bijou was popular for a few decades, but fell out of style after Prohibition. Unlike its popular cousins the Manhattan and martini, the Bijou was unknown until it was rediscovered in the 1980’s. The ingredients in a Bijou cocktail are equal parts:

  • Gin
  • Sweet vermouth
  • Chartreuse liquor

As a note, some people like to change-up the ratios so there is less Chartreuse. But we decided to stay with the 1890’s equal parts recipe, and we’re glad we did. Let’s dig into these ingredients, shall we?

Bijou cocktail

What is Chartreuse, anyway?

Let’s start with the most intriguing ingredient: Chartreuse! This unique green liqueur could be the reason the Bijou never became the popular kid on the block. Here’s what you need to know about Chartreuse:

  • Chartreuse is an herbal liqueur made by French monks since the mid-1700’s. The alcohol is aged with a secret blend of 130 plants. (No, we did not make this up!) Chartreuse liqueur comes in two colors: green and yellow.
  • How much does Chartreuse cost? A bottle costs about $30 to $35 in the US.
  • What other cocktails use Chartreuse? The Bijou and the Last Word are two classic cocktails that use Chartreuse.
  • Is it worth buying? Yes, if you’re an adventurous home bartender looking for a unique liqueur! You can also sip on it as a shot, or add soda water as a sort of spritz.
Chartreuse

More about sweet vermouth

Vermouth is a fortified wine, meaning that liquor has been added to stabilize it. There are two main types of vermouth: sweet (usually red) and dry (usually white). Here’s a bit more about vermouth:

  • Sweet vermouth is subtly sweet and spicy, with a hit of bitter on the finish. It features in many classic cocktails like the NegroniAmericano, and Manhattan.
  • Dry vermouth: Dry white vermouth is used in martinis, like the Classic Martini and Dirty Martini.
  • Storage: Make sure to store vermouth in the refrigerator: it stays good there for up to 3 months. Here are all our favorite Vermouth Cocktails to use up a bottle!
How to make a Bijou

How to make a Bijou cocktail

Once you’ve got your ingredients, this three ingredient drink takes only 5 minutes to make. Here are the main steps to make a Bijou cocktail:

  • Stir together all ingredients in a cocktail mixing glass. This is a classic “stirred” cocktail where you stir the ingredients together instead of shaking them. Shaking dilutes the drink with ice. Because this drink is all liquor and no juices or mixers, you stir it.
  • Don’t have a mixing glass? Use any glass or container you like to mix the drink, then strain it into the serving glass. Or, grab yourself a cocktail mixing glass. (Plus, it just looks cool.)

Garnish with a lemon peel and Luxardo cherry!

The garnish is an important part of classic cocktails! Garnish the Bijou with a lemon peel and then if you like, add a Luxardo cherry. This special sort of cherry is also common as the garnish for a Manhattan. Luxardo cherries are a cocktail cherry, but they’re so dark red they almost look black. They taste complex, fruity, and nutty almost like amarettoExactly what you need for a classic cocktail. It’s easiest to find Luxardo cherries online.

Garnish for Bijou drink

Related drinks to the Bijou

The Bijou cocktail has several “cousin” drinks that are similar in flavor and style: though it’s completely unique! Here are a few related drinks:

  • Martinez The Bijou reminds us most of the Martinez, the predecessor to the Martini! This gin cocktail mixes sweet vermouth and Maraschino liqueur.
  • Manhattan The Bijou is also close to the Manhattan, just bourbon and sweet vermouth.
  • Last Word The Last Word is another equal parts cocktail and also uses Chartreuse and gin! It adds Maraschino liqueur and lime juice to the mix.
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Bijou Cocktail

Classic Bijou Cocktail


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

The Bijou cocktail is an impressive classic cocktail! Its name evokes glittering jewels: gin for diamond, vermouth for ruby and Chartreuse for emerald.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) gin
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Chartreuse
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • For the garnish: Lemon peel, cocktail cherry

Instructions

  1. Combine the gin,sweet vermouth, Chartreuse and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass (or any other type of glass). Fill the mixing glass with 1 handful ice and stir continuously for 30 seconds.
  2. Strain the drink into a cocktail glass.
  3. Use a knife to remove a 1″ wide strip of the lemon peel. Squeeze the lemon peel into the drink to release the oils. Gently run the peel around the edge of the glass, then place it in the glass and serve.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Bijou Cocktail

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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