Wither Génépy des Alpes?
“Where’s the Genepy des Alpes?”
“On the counter. Right in front of you.”
“It isn’t. This is… something else.”
It began with a standard trip. “I’m at Total Wine,” my partner texted. “What couldn’t we find at Bevmo recently?” “Genepy des Alpes,” I sent, and the bottle that arrived was very like des Alpes.
But it was not the same.
Génépy des Alpes is a Chez Coupe Tales pantry staple. Lovely on its own, we also rely upon it as an affordable substitute for Green Chartreuse in Last Words and as an important ingredient in Pinegronis. Let’s pause for recipes:
Shake equal parts Genepy des Alpes, Luxardo Maraschino, gin, and fresh lime juice with ice. Strain into a coupe.
by Mike Yoshioka
- 1 oz. St. George Terroir gin (and it must be Terroir; no substitutes)
- 1 oz. St. George Bruto Americano
- 1 oz. Dolin Genepy des Alpes
- 3 drops rosemary tincture OR gently muddle fresh rosemary in the drink
The original recipe instructs you to float Élixir Vegétal atop the cocktail but we found that its strength distracted significantly from the alpine forest flavors of the gin. Coupe Tales recommends eschewing the float (even if you have some smuggled Élixir Vegétal, which you may not).
No shops know
“I had no idea,” said multiple bottle shop workers.
“No one said anything to me.”
“The distributor was just here and didn’t say a word.”
“I didn’t notice it changed.”
Bevmo. Ledger’s. Cask. Total Wine. Alchemy. The switch-a-roo happened under everyone’s noses and not a shop owner, counter worker, nor a shelf duster was the wiser. (One exception: Blackwell’s Wines and Spirits in San Francisco noticed and speculated that it’s the same recipe.)
In most places, these changeling bottles stood proud over shelf tags still promising Genepy des Alpes:
Brand changes typically occur to much hullabaloo. Why an atypical name change without fanfare? My ideas ran the gamut from “international distribution hurdles did their worst” to “only two people knew the secret recipe and they simultaneously spontaneously combusted.”
The truth may be closer to the prosaic end of the spectrum. “We were required to make the name change to conform to the same product sold in France — Dolin makes a few recipes, Chamois their most famous,” Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz said in an email. “The formula is exactly the same between the two.”
Perhaps it’s a missed opportunity to educate distributors and bartenders on the name change (and, in the process, the product) but that’s perfectly reasonable. Provided, at least, the recipe really is the same.
It tastes different
Genepy des Alpes is done and gone. Only one dusty bottle from the back of a shelf remains to me. Comparisons must take into account batch differences, age, and potential recipe changes.
With that caveat, home taste tests suggest that Genepy des Alpes and Genepy le Chamois are different.
Genepy le Chamois has a milder herbal flavor than des Alpes, more sugar, and a thicker consistency. While still well-suited to a Last Word, its muted herbaceousness leaves the Pinegroni significantly less spicy than it should be.
Hypothesis: Genepy le Chamois is the Yellow Chartreuse to Genepy des Alpes’ Green Chartreuse.
The official word begs to differ: “We of course can have minor variation batch to batch, and it does mellow with age,” says Seed.
Be that as it may, our once-loved Pinegroni will probably be slowly retired from rotation given its changed flavor profile.