The Bijou cocktail is a bold and boozy jewel that we covet all year long but especially during the holidays. The opposite of a lightweight, this sparkly amber cocktail adds a festive flair to any drinking session.
We never heard of the Bijou until we researched cocktail recipes with green Chartreuse.
After we crafted our first Bijou at home, we wondered why the potent potable isn’t more more popular. By the time we crafted our second, we were too giddy to care.
What Is The Bijou Cocktail?
Merriam-Webster defines the word bijou as “something delicate, elegant, or highly prized” and we can’t think of a better way to describe the Bijou cocktail. In French, the word literally translates to jewel.
Big and boozy with no less than four liquors in its recipe, the Bijou packs a punch despite its sparkly appearance. Some people liken each liquor to a different gem but the finished product – a balanced, amber drink that’s reminiscent of a Manhattan with a bonus hint of herbaceousness – is a genuine jewel.
History Of The Bijou Cocktail
Invented by Harry Johnson more than a century ago and documented in his New and Improved Bartender’s Manual, the Bijou cocktail is a classic cocktail that failed the test of time… until it didn’t.
The pre-prohibition tippler disappeared from most cocktail bars for decades before reappearing, albeit with a modified recipe. Modern recipes use more gin and less green Chartreuse and sweet vermouth. We’ve decided to stick to the original lower gin ratio in our recipe.
We’re purists who prefer Johnson’s original recipe and bold flavors. If you’re crafting this at home, we say try it both ways. Unlike us, you may prefer more gin in your Bijou.
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Bijou Cocktail Ingredients
The Bijou shines brightly in the cocktail collective thanks to ingredients that sparkle like jewels. We’re talking about emerald-green Chartreuse, diamond-like gin and ruby-red sweet vermouth. Here’s the full list of Bijou ingredients:
No lightweight, the Bijou recipe has four liquors – green Chartreuse, dry gin, sweet vermouth and orange bitters. While gin and vermouth are fairly common, green Chartreuse and orange bitters are a bit more exclusive.
Green Chartreuse isn’t a fixture in most liquor cabinets but maybe it should be. With its green hue and herbaceous flavors, the liqueur is a challenge due to its availability and price. Thanks to its unique flavors, it’s also a savior for motivated mixologists looking to craft their next great drink.
Produced in the town of Voiron, France, the verdant liqueur is a potent potable with a 55% ABV. Carthusian monks created the first batch batch in 1737 and the recipe, featuring a blend of 130 herbs and plants, remains a secret to this day.
We bought a bottle of Angostura orange bitters specifically to craft this cocktail recipe and we’re glad we did. With an aromatic blend of orange extracts and spices, these bitters smell delightful while adding a pleasant kick thanks to the 28% ABV.
How To Craft A Bijou Cocktail
The first step in this recipe is to measure the green Chartreuse, dry gin and sweet vermouth. We like to use a Japanese jigger to ensure accurate measurements and make clean pours.
We recommend pouring the liquids directly into a mixing glass as you measure each. We used our Boston shaker in lieu of a mixing glass but you can use a vessel of your choice.
The next step is to add a dash of orange bitters. We like to us Angostura orange bitters but any brand will suffice.
Add a good amount of ice and stir the four liquors with a bar spoon until they’re combined and chilled. This step should take about 20 seconds.
Strain into a small martini glass.
The last step is to garnish the cocktail with lemon peel and a maraschino cherry. But first, express your glass by rubbing the lemon peel around its rim.
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Bijou Cocktail Alternatives
The original Bijou cocktail recipe hits our cocktail sweet spot with its bold flavors and rich color. However, you may want to craft a different gem. If so, the following ideas will get you started:
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The Bijou is a a balanced, amber drink that’s reminiscent of a Manhattan with a bonus hint of herbaceousness.
Green Chartreuse, Dry Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Orange Bitters, Ice Cubes (for mixing), Maraschino Cherry (garnish) and Lemon Peel (garnish)
Despite its French name, the Bijou was invented in the United States.
The Bijou is stirred, not shaken.
We like to serve this cocktail in a coupe glass but you could use a small martini glass instead.
Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.
- Combine the gin, green chartreuse, sweet vermouth and orange bitters in a mixing glass.
- Add several ice cubes and stir until the liquids are mixed and chilled.
- Strain into a coupe glass or martini glass.
- Garnish with lemon peel and a maraschino cherry after you express the rim of the glass with the lemon peel.
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About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
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Original Publication Date: December 21, 2021