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16.05 ?

The Genesis of "16.05"
Photo © Stéphane Couchet

The Chartreuse liqueurs are named after the “Ordre des Chartreux” as the Carthusian Order is known in French, which is itself named after the place where Bruno and his seven companions decided to settle in 1084: the “Desert” of Chartreuse.

They built a hermitage in these austere mountains to live in solitude together, in prayer and contemplation in the silence of the monastery. Over the years, the Carthusians used plants for their therapeutic properties. Thanks to their reputation as apothecaries, in 1605 at the Vauvert monastery in Paris, the Maréchal d’Estrées entrusted them with a manuscript containing a mysterious recipe composed of 130 plants, flowers, roots, berries and bark which could be used to produce an elixir for “long life”.


1605… a symbolic date as it marks the start of the Carthusians’ research…

The Carthusian fathers were charged with working on the recipe contained in the manuscript and finding the most perfect elixir possible. This quest lasting over one and a half centuries resulted in a final product established in 1764 called the “Elixir Végétal de la Grande-Chartreuse”. It was rapidly distributed to the local populations as a remedy, especially during the cholera epidemic in 1832. The recipe for the Elixir has remained unchanged ever since 1764.

Over the course of these years, the monks’ knowledge enabled them to develop the elixir. In 1840, Green Chartreuse, also called “liqueur de santé”, or “health liqueur”, was developed, based on the basic recipe for the Elixir Végétal. In the same year, a recipe for a new, sweeter, yellow-coloured liqueur was developed using the same set of plants from the manuscript. This was yellow Chartreuse, which would become known as “Reine des liqueurs”.

Chartreuse has succeeded in crossing the centuries by adapting to the different generations.

Today, it inspires the world of culture, cinema, music and some groups in particular. Chartreuse is used regularly in gastronomy for its aromatic complexity. It has become a must in the world of mixology, where bartenders are increasingly using it in cocktails, putting a new twist on recipes dating back to the days of Prohibition in the United States. Chartreuse is considered to be one of the oldest liqueurs in the world, and is still to this day being made by the Carthusian fathers after over 400 years. It remains the property of the Carthusians, the only ones who know its recipe and master this unique savoir-faire. The Chartreuse® brand was registered for the first time in 1852! Its sale is the main source of income for the Carthusians and therefore contributes to the longevity of the Order. The date of 1605 is probably the most symbolic in the history of Chartreuse liqueurs, as this is the date when it all started. It still appears on all bottles of Chartreuse and is a key element of the identity of the Carthusian fathers’ liqueurs.
In 2012, a desire and willingness emerged to organise and celebrate a worldwide Chartreuse Day in collaboration with the professional community – bartenders, sommeliers, chefs and wine merchants. This was to be an opportunity to celebrate the liqueur all over the world and share its values through an enjoyable, convivial event.

Using the year 1605 as a starting point, the date of 16.05, May 16th, was chosen

the project being to create an annual event on 16th May to celebrate Chartreuse with people touched by its history, its mystery, its roots and its authenticity.
The “16.05” event was born, a highlight providing an opportunity each year to support the professional community and raise awareness through various activities via its importers, distributors and their teams with the aim of better serving the liqueur.
16.05 has become a not-to-be-missed celebration in over twenty countries. Here’s to 16.05 ! Here’s to Chartreuse !