Chartreuse is a naturally green French liqueur that has been made exclusively by Carthusian monks since 1737, and is still made by the monks today. A manuscript written by François Annibal d’Estrées, the Marshal of King Henri IV’s artillery, contains the recipe, which includes a combination of 130 distinct herbs. Originally it was produced as a medicine. The drink has been known at various times as the “elixir of life” or the “liqueur of health”. However, the benefits of the drink play second fiddle to its pleasant flavour. Today the drink is available in both green and yellow varieties, with the yellow Chartreuse having a milder, sweeter flavour.
Galliano is a golden-yellow drink named after Giuseppe Galliano, an Italian war hero from the First Italo-Ethiopian War. It’s used for its sweet flavour in many cocktails, such as the Harvey Wallbanger, the Golden Dream and the Golden Cadillac. Among its ingredients are vanilla, ginger, star aniseed, musk yarrow and lavender. Many of the plants used in the drink have known health benefits. For example, ginger is widely used to treat nausea and has been shown to reduce arthritic pain. It may also help prevent tumours from developing. Star aniseed has long been used in a tea to treat rheumatism. Musk yarrow, commonly known just as yarrow, is known as a stimulant and can be used as a topical treatment for wounds and cuts. Lavender has been shown in clinical studies to reduce anxiety and help alleviate sleep disturbances.
The Buchu plant, native to South Africa’s Western Province, has a wide range of medicinal applications. It’s used in a topical gel for treating arthritic pain and other forms of inflammation, and consumed as a drink to treat urinary tract infections and as a muscle relaxant. Perhaps the most popular use for this medicinal plant is in Buchu Brandy, made by steeping a few sprigs of the plant in a good brandy for a period of about a week. Buchu brandy is used to ease coughs, colds, anxiety, chills, indigestion and muscular cramps. The Buchu plant has a long and interesting history. It was first discovered by the native Khoi San people of the Cape and later exported to Europe by early Cape colonists.
Jägermeister is a German liqueur made from a combination of 56 herbs and spices. Its name translates from German directly as “Master of the hunt”, although the drink is also known in Germany simply as a kräuterlikör, or herbal liqueur. Some of the beneficial herbs and roots used in the production of this popular drink are saffron, ginseng, licorice and citrus peel. The 56 plants included in it are ground and steeped in water and alcohol for two to three days, after which the mixture is filtered and stored in oak barrels for about a year. The drink is known to aid in digestion and as a cough suppressant.
Gammel Dansk is a traditional Danish herbal drink made of a combination of 29 herbs, spices and flowers. The exact recipe is kept secret but is known to include angelica, laurel, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise and gentian. Like Jägermeister, it’s taken to aid in digestion, and is traditionally drunk with breakfast or lunch as part of Danish wedding and birthday celebrations.