Raise your glass to medieval monks

I finished my third novel this week, pressed send, yay me. I was hitting a wall about a week before I finished. I was juggling too much, and pulling 2am nights just to write. Enter a sore throat and cold. My lovely guy plied me with lemon juice, but then decided I needed something even more medicinal, so arrived home with a bottle of Chartreuse. One shot, gargle before you swallow… cured the sore throat immediately. Anyone who has read my novel Trouble Brewing will be aware of my interest in medicinal spirits.

Here’s a piece I wrote about Chartreuse for my publisher’s blog.


Anyone who says alcohol is never the answer doesn’t know much about it. I don’t mean downing a carton of Heineken. A bottle of Pinot, while often quite lovely, won’t be of much benefit. But there are certain liqueurs out there that will fix your health problems, solve your emotional issues, and some will even clean your house. (No, not really, but after a few shots you won’t care about housework anyway.)

How do you find these magical liqueurs? Look no further than the medieval Christian church.

Monastic communities had to be independent, so to do this they needed to provide a service that paid. Brewing booze funded their meditative life. But they couldn’t just distil any old drink. Everything they did had to benefit both their physical and spiritual wellbeing. Any drinks they made needed to be nutritional and medicinal. And all these drinks were developed with their spiritual development in mind. It’s meant to make you feel differently. It’s called “spirit” for a reason.

Take Chartreuse for example. The first records of this powerful healing liqueur dates back to 1605 when an ancient alchemical manuscript was handed over to a monastery near Paris by a marshal of artillery to King Henri IV. The manuscript was called The Elixir of Long Life. The recipe was so complex it took the monks over 100 years to decipher the ingredients and learn how to compound them. In the early 1700s the manuscript was taken to the La Grande Chartreuse. Here, Brother Maubec spent his monastic life trying to unravel the secrets of the elixir, only passing on his knowledge on his deathbed.

Chartreuse is still produced by these monks. Only three monks know the 130 medicinal herbs and flowers that go into Chartreuse. All three monks know only a third of the secret recipe and all have taken a vow of silence.

I’m pretty sure the guys making Coolabah cask wine don’t take their job this seriously. But there’s good reason for it.

Chartreuse is a herbal tonic that has been perfected over centuries. Each of the 130 herbs, roots and flowers that go into it have been chosen for their healing properties. It can alleviate everything from digestive issues to respiratory infections. It is a tonic for the body and an elixir for the mind. It is not only a cure for insomnia, but also gateway to other realms via your dreams. And for those who know their liqueurs, Chartreuse tastes great too.

So treat yourself, drink Chartreuse. And when you do, raise your glass to the monks who made it. It’s good for you.