The French poet Victor Hugo once wrote, “Life is a flower for which love is the honey.” Well, it seems the French have found a way for you to practically drink those words in liqueur form, via the exquisite génépi.
A native of the French Alps for over a century, this specialty made from mountain flowers is closely related to the herbal foundation that the more well-known Chartreuse, made by Carthusian monks since the 17th century, is built on, and lovers of that spirit will undoubtedly fall for this obscure aperitif.
Now available in the US, Génépi Guillaumette is based on distiller Thomas Bernard-Reymond’s grandfather’s recipe and was once only sold to locals in his farmers market until discovered by Mayur Subbarao on behalf of Vendetta Spirits, which is owned by Bittermens. Thomas, who is also a ski instructor, has the benefit of pulling genepi (Artemisia naturalis) plants, a relative of wormwood, in both the spring and fall from the untouched high-Alpine mountainside, then distills completely in the dark as his grandfather once did, which could be what sets his génépi apart from all others.
Bartenders are ravenous for the spirit and at NYC’s Louro restaurant, the Génépi Guillaumette is used in a Winter Old-Fashioned, which combines bourbon and apple brandy for a drink that offers an elegant complexity undoubtedly driven by the fresh flora of the génépi.
Whether enjoyed on its own, in a cocktail, or even in hot chocolate, génépi is incredible reminder that we can now enjoy these once obscure and virtually untouched French spirits here in the US. Enjoy.
- 3/4 ounce Black Maple Hill Bourbon
- 3/4 ounce Calvados or Applejack
- 1/2 ounce Génépi Guillaumette
- 3 slices pear (sweeter varieties are best)
- 6 drops Bittermens ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters
- lemon twist
- Muddle pear slices and lemon twist in a mixing glass.
- Add remaining ingredients and cracked ice to fill mixing glass.
- Stir briefly and double-strain into a rocks glass with a single large cube.
- Garnish with a pear slice.
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