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Oct 27, 2007 10:46 PM

Chartreuse Elixir Vegetal

I've always wanted to try Elixir Vegetal made by the Chartreuse Monks. Has anyone had it? Has anyone been able to get it in the United States?

I have had even had friends look for it in France for me but nobody was able to find it. Their search was limited to the Paris area though.

I'd love to hear any stories!

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  1. While not speaking authoritatively on the subject, I imagine a bottle would be very expensive indeed.

    For a drink, you could try some of the higher-end bars in Boston (No.9 and Eastern Standard come to mind, I know ES as the VEP's, I'm still recovering from the hangover) and I'm sure at least one the better New York bars would have it if it's even available here.

    142 proof! Watch out!

    1 Reply
    1. re: sailormouth

      I've heard they only run about $10 in France...if only!

      Believe it or not, I've found a lot of NY bars don't even carry the standard Chartreuse. Here in RI a lot of bars have at least that, if not VEP.

    2. Elixir Vegetal is not sold in the USA. It is bottled in 10cl bottles at 142 proof! It is not sold in wine or liquor shops in France, but in drugstores only.The french take it like a medicine.I have had a bottle for a long time now and it is amazing stuff. I used to work for a huge wineshop in western Mass and we got an importer to sneak some in with a wine shipment. It's the best cough medicine I've ever tasted.

      1. Here in South Africa imported 500ml bottles are occasionally available for the equivalent of $25. I'm sure someone must be importing it in the States; my copy of Chez Panisse Fruits and Chez Panisse Desserts call for it in many dishes. Maybe contact Chez Panisse and ask if they can direct you to a reputable source?

        4 Replies
        1. re: Gooseberry

          Dear Gooseberry. I have never seen nor heard of Elixir Vegetal being bottled and sold in 500ml...I know that at the printing time of the
          Chez Panisse books you mentioned it was NOT available through legal channels in the USA. I do not believe it is now either.

          1. re: Rumbullion

            Hi Rumbullion - I'll stick my head into the bottle store I last saw it in when I next go past to check out the size. I could very well be mistaken; this was some time ago.But I DO remember thinking, "That's an awful lot of money for such a small bottle". I'm interested to know why it isn't legally available in the States - is it, like Absinthe, associated with the 'green fairy'?

            1. re: Gooseberry

              I'm sure the bottle is small but it's definitely not meant to be imbibed in large quantities. I heard one way to drink it is to sprinkle some over crushed ice.

              I don't know why it's not available in the US. As far as I know, Chartreuse (every variety) has a secret recipe, so I'm not sure if the FDA reviews it or not. I'm sure the green chartreuse (especially VEP) has some funky herbs in it like wormwood.

              1. re: cajuntoast

                It didn't strike me as the sort of alcohol to chug, no! Both in terms of cost and quality. I was comparing the price in my mind to what I'd pay for a small bottle of another 'sipping and savouring' alcohol.

        2. I brought back some from Paris earlier this year. It's available at Lavinia (huge wine store in Paris- I bought 6 of them and had no problems bringing it in through customs. Paid about 12 euro apiece for 10cL bottles.

          It has a very similar flavor (to me) to the green VEP, though a bit more intense. I enjoy taking a capful in a small glass of mineral or soda water-it's so strongly flavored and alcoholic that you really don't need much.

          It is unavailable in the states due to issues with obtaining a certificate of labeling approval from the TTB to import it. The monks would have to disclose the recipe to the TTB (ATF's tax bureau) to approve the label in the US so they've decided to not export it and keep it a secret.

            1. re: yarm

              South Africa: $50/liter
              US: $370/liter


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                1. re: bayjulep

                  South Africa: $50/liter
                  US: $∞/liter

                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                    Dan, yes, it's rather pricey.

                    Apparently it costs around 8 euros ($11) near the Chartreuse distillery and 10 euros ($14) at duty free in CDG-Roissy.


                  2. re: bayjulep

                    Whoops. Didn't catch that, just knew that they were selling it for a while, although it makes sense since I recall it making news over a year ago. The owner of that site stumbles upon some wonderful things and may stumble upon it again (it has appeared and reappeared at least 2 times) so keep an eye out or use the email alert.

                    I've only had the Elixir Vegetal twice. Once was as an accent to a drink akin to a dash of bitters, and the other was served on a spoon with as a soaked sugar cube. I believe that the latter is a rather common way for it to be taken. It could easily be imported into the US if the Carthusian monks would just release their secret recipe's ingredients list to the FDA...