In Britain the word “Bijou” is oft used by estate agents. When a property is described as bijou, it means it is small and cramped. The use of the foreign word sounds so much better than the English alternatives. With this meaning of the word in mind, I found it an odd name for a cocktail. However, the word originally refers to a small gemstone. From that meaning, it is easy to see how its current use emerged. The Bijou cocktail’s name refers to three gem colours from the ingredients: Gin as a diamond, Vermouth as a ruby, and Chartreuse as an emerald.
The cocktail dates back to the late nineteenth century; making it one of the older recipes in existence. The original called for equal parts of the three main ingredients. The modern version increases the proportion of Gin. This renders a less sweet drink.
1 1/2oz Gin
1/2oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2oz Green Chartreuse
1 dash Orange Bitters
Stir with ice.
Serve straight in a chilled cocktail glass.
I used Uncle Val’s Restorative Gin . The floral notes of this gin are a good complement to the herbal nature of the Chartreuse. The resulting drink is a fascinating balance of sweet and herbal strands. I enjoyed it. Amber’s reaction on the otherhand was less favourable. She scrunched up her face and spat the drink into the sink. I do not think she will swap her Gin and Tonic for the Bijou. However, I would recommend this as an unusual and enjoyable cocktail.