Cardiff Cocktails

By Mark Holmes

Mixology Monday - Paracelsus


When I first joined the on-line cocktail world back in June I came across Mixology Monday, a monthly cocktail challenge which is set by a different cocktail enthusiast and blogger, with their own new theme each time. It was what convinced me to stop being lazy and set up a blog myself, so a quick thanks to Paul Clarke is in order, because if it wasn’t for his idea, I wouldn’t be doing this today. So here it is…my first Mixology Monday.

This months theme, Bein’ Green, was chosen by Ed over at Wordsmithing Pantagruel blog. For this one I’ve decided to tie in a little history about the medicinal use of alcohol, and how we’ve got to where we are now in terms of herbal liqueurs such as the Green Chartreuse which I’ve used in my cocktail. 

Although probably all early civilizations produce fermented drinks, it was in Greece sometime before 460 B.C. where herbs were first mixed with wine. However it wasn’t until the 7th century when Islamic Universities recognised the uses of alcohol for medicinal purposes. Two Persians, Geber (in the 8th century) and Rhazes (10th century), would develop distillation, using it to concentrate alcohol to be taken as an anaesthetic. Later in the 10th century a man named Abulcasis described the use of distilled alcohol as a solvent for drugs.

Between the 12th and 14th centuries alchemists across Europe experimented with distilling different fermented items, but medicines continued to be given as infusions with water and decoctions of single herbs. Two Spanish alchemists in the 13th century, Arnold of Villanove and Raymond Lully, started to make spirits using wine (today we know it as brandy) as a solvent for medicine, which would latter be used as medicine by itself and eventually recreationally. At the same time in the UK and northern Europe whiskey was being produced by distilling fermented grain. 

It was in the 16th century however when a German-Swiss physician/botanist called Paracelsus really popularised the use of distilled alcohol as a solvent for herbs and chemicals to produced tinctures. These Elixirs became extreamly popular across Europe, especially with monasteries, and began to become more and more complex, often using over 100 different herbs and spices. Most of these Elixirs were very bitter, and used as a digestive before meals, some where sweetened and are still being sold today. It is this physician I’ve named my cocktail after, after all without his work in the medical field we probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy liqueurs such as Benedictine and Chartreuse.

Going back to the whole point of this post, here is my Bein’ Green cocktail. I’ve used a splash of Pernod and a home made mint syrup to compliment all the wonderful herbaceous flavours of the green Chartreuse, oh and they were all green so it just seemed to make sense.


  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1 oz  Green Chartreuse
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz mint syrup
  • Teaspoon Pernod

Blend with crushed ice and pour unstrained into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a mint sprig.

  • 5 October 2012
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