Coronavirus Diaries: Coping With Chartreuse - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Coronavirus Diaries: Coping With Chartreuse
David Tonelson/

I didn’t have much time to drink until this nationwide lockdown. Work always prevented me. Or family. Church, too, I suppose. Now all of that is gone. But at least I have time to develop my hobbies.  

My wife and I are practicing this new ritual. We slam our laptops closed every Friday evening and then get riotously drunk. The results are typical for newlyweds. Sometimes we scream at each other. More often we flip through old New Yorker comics before obsessively reorganizing our bookshelves. What else is there to pass off as culture in Washington, D.C., when the Kennedy Center is closed?

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We like Chartreuse. The green stuff, not the yellow. It has an earthy flavor and a honey finish. Like Coca-Cola, no one single person has the full recipe. It is distilled by monks who have vowed never to speak, except at Mass and when they chant the Liturgy of the Hours. Having drunk more than my share of Chartreuse, I think I know why.

There are two Chartreuse-based drinks that we especially enjoy. The first is called the Last Word. It’s an old cocktail, invented in Detroit, back before the place became Charlie LeDuff’s playground. The original version calls for gin. But my wife and I are not so civilized.

This is how we make it: equal parts Chartreuse, rye whiskey, maraschino liqueur, and lemon juice shaken over ice. 

It’s the color of the River Raisin and smells like pomade. Best to knock it back quickly.

The second drink is lighter, and, for me at least, it’s a reminder of better times, when Ross Douthat could accurately describe the American condition. The drink is called the Esperanto. My wife and I devised the name after discussing the etymology of George Soros’s surname, which, incidentally, is an Esperanto verb meaning “to soar.” After finishing an Esperanto, you’ll want to, too.

Here’s how we make it: equal parts Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur, topped with champagne, or, if you are not so fortunate (who is?), with prosecco.  

There is another, more expensive bottle of Chartreuse that I have my eyes set upon. It comes in a wooden box, and before it’s bottled, the monks age it in oak casks for 10 years. Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolongé: exceptionally prolonged aging. It usually costs about $180, and I am told it is worth every cent. 

Sometimes I lie in bed and think about how I’ll splurge on a bottle of Chartreuse V.E.P. But who am I kidding — in this economy?

Editor’s Note: The coronavirus pandemic has many of us shut up in our homes for now. That can be isolating and frustrating. But it can also be a chance to catch up on things we let fall away during busier times. So we’re asking our writers and readers: How are you spending your time amid the shutdown? We’re open to anything that will make us laugh or think and help us share what will be a difficult time for many. Please send contributions of 250–400 words to

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