Two Anniversaries, and a Mystery

Today, you may be aware, is the two hundredth anniversary of Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo. (This is a big year, apparently - the Magna Carta turned eight hundred on Monday.)

My first thought on hearing this, naturally, was, "Is there a Waterloo Cocktail?" And, just as naturally, there is:

Waterloo Sunset
1/2 oz. Beefeater Gin
2 tsp Elderflower Cordial
1 tsp Raspberry Liqueur
Champagne to fill
Stir the gin and cordial with ice and strain into a Champagne flute. Float the Champagne on top, then carefully pour the raspberry liqueur through the Champagne, so it also floats on the gin and cordial.

(Recipe modified from metric units to the units that landed men on the moon.)

"Elderflower Cordial" in this case does not mean a "cordial" in the contemporary American sense, synonymous with "liqueur"; but in the older or British  sense, essentially an infusion of elderflowers in sugar and water. St. Elder or St. Germain would approximate this flavor reasonably well, while admittedly adding a few things of their own.

Now, ordinarily, this would be the part where the author signs off, with maybe a musing about Waterloo for the road. But today, as I was doing my research, I found this article as well. For those who don't feel like going through the Scheherazadean exercise of articles within articles, here's the money quote:

"In France, 18 June is remembered not for Waterloo but as the day General de Gaulle launched his appeal from London in 1940, calling his fellow countrymen to resist the German occupation."

In other words, today is also the 75th anniversary, at least symbolically, of the start of the French Resistance. Which naturally made me wonder, "Is there a Charles de Gaulle Cocktail?"

And, just as naturally, there is. The folks at Cocktail Virgin and/or Slut have a post about it, too, and although these are the only sources I can find, they don't precisely agree.

Everybody's on the same page that this is a Green Chartreuse, hot chocolate, and dairy drink. In the first of those two links, you'll see heated milk and a garnish of heavy cream called for (although the cocoa is still a powder in that recipe, so the milk could be read as simply indicating a rich hot chocolate). In the latter, no particular type of cream is specified, but its location is: on top.

So we've got a slug of Chartreuse in a mug of hot chocolate with some species of decorative cream surtopping it. Remind you of anything?

By which - say it with me now - naturally, I mean the Verte Chaud.

This is a reasonably well-known drink, evidently thanks to Jamie Boudreau, since most of the online references I see cite him as their source.

As a non-Francophone, I have to give credit to blind luck, careful Googling, and this young lady's travel blog, for introducing me collectively to the idea of "chocolat chaud," which is, literally, French for "hot chocolate."

The name of the Verte Chaud is thereby made clear, "Chartreuse Verte" being French for "Green Chartreuse." The convention here is rather like a Black and Tan, or a Whiskey Sour - the name is not so much a name as a description. "Green Hot."

This is so far identical to the Charles de Gaulle. But what of the cream? "Wet cream," the topping in several of the Verte Chaud recipes, is evidently like the kind of whipped cream you make yourself, if you stopped whipping it before it really got stiff.

But one of those links, courtesy of PDT's Jim Meehan, calls for "heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks.And here, the gap is bridged.

As a non-baker, I have to thank really simple Googling and this cooking blog for clarifying that heavy cream and whipping cream are very nearly the same, with as little as 6% fat making the difference. For our purposes, they are basically interchangeable.

Which means that the conclusion of this whole exercise is that the Verte Chaud and the Charles de Gaulle are exactly the same drink:

Verte Chaud de Gaulle
2 oz. Green Chartreuse
6 oz. or 1 mug rich hot chocolate
Top with a dollop of cream, whipped just shy of stiff

Calling this the Verte Chaud makes sense. Calling it the Charles de Gaulle also makes sense, because it's showing off several of France's iconic national products. I'm guessing the purely descriptive name is prior, but really, I've got nothing but guesses about the historical nomenclature. For now.

Next stop: Eastern Standard, which I infer from the preceding posts on CVa/oS is where they had the Charles de Gaulle back in 2007.

In the mean time, chaud damn, there's a lot of French history to reflect on today. Happy drinking - the past is best considered with a glass in hand.