Have you ever had a Chartreuse Cappuccino?

It’s simply the zippiest, sweetest, most herbaceously complex coffee cocktail I’ve ever had. And even better, we know exactly to whom it should be credited.

This is a rare thing in coffee. The multi-faceted, multi-national nature of coffee lends itself naturally to the phenomenon of mutual invention. But cocktails have a way of sticking to their creator’s legacies in a different way. We know exactly who invented the Irish Coffee (Joe Sheridan), the Espresso Martini (Dick Bradsell), and the White Russian (Gustave Tops). Other popular cocktails, however, are lost to time; we do not know who invented the Carajillo, the Coffee Nudge, or the original coffee-variant Negroni, of which there are now hundreds.

The Chartreuse Cappuccino was invented by Paul Einbund. It is a contemporary, 21st century cocktail that should enter the wider drinks pantheon as an undeniably Very Good Drink. Einbund is the proprietor of The Morris, a restaurant with an outstanding drinks program on the eastern edge of San Francisco’s Mission District, near the base of Potrero Hill. One of the restaurant’s specialties is the arcane, deeply secretive, increasingly rare and utterly delicious alpine liqueur Chartreuse.

There is no “one” Chartreuse. It comes in both green and yellow varieties, whose flavoristic and textural properties vary significantly. There is considerable variation between vintages of Chartreuse, and also several sub-varieties of Chartreuse, including a rare VEP bottling and higher proof bottlings. Its recipe is a closely guarded secret, comprising more than 130 distinct herbs foraged from the mountains north of Grenoble, in the far southeastern corner of France. The liqueur has been produced continuously by Carthusian monks since the early 18th century. Its existence today is the subject of much inquiry and shortage. The fact we even get to drink it at all is one of those miracles of combined human knowledge and trade and history and mysticism that makes you feel lucky to be alive.

char cap

The Morris is home to some 30 listed bottlings of Chartreuse on its epic wine and spirits menu, dating back to the first decade of the 20th century. Back in 2019 I interviewed Paul Einbund for a story on one particularly rare (and perhaps quite disgusting) lost bottling of Chartreuse, and began visiting The Morris in earnest whilst in San Francisco. It was there, lurking in the dessert portion of Paul’s menu, I noticed the Chartreuse Cappuccino as an original after-dinner cocktail.

By god, is it good. Creamy! Steamy! Herbal and sweet and luscious but utterly perfectly paired with espresso and milk. The sort of drink you order a first round of, then a second. And so utterly original! I’d never had anything like it. We had to learn more.

advert but first coffee cookbook now available


The more we learned, the more we fell in love. The secret to Paul’s technique draws on a spinning globe of influences. He starts with yellow Chartreuse, which is slightly more mellow than the green stuff (though this can depend by vintage). He mixes that Chartreuse with milk and palm sugar, which is an absolutely critical component to this drink. That suggestion comes from Vanessa Yap Einbund, who runs a very good design studio in San Francisco and has helped provide website design and brand identity to some really cool projects throughout the Bay Area. She grew up with palm sugar as a part of her family’s Indonesian cooking, and suggested using it in developing the Chartreuse Cappuccino.

The end result is dangerously logical, and utterly modern. Use local dairy milk, or a quality alternative milk (we love Pacific Foods Barista Series). Combine Chartreuse from France, palm sugar from Indonesia, a delicious espresso blend (at The Morris they use Linea Caffe), and steam it using espresso machine technology and design heritage from Italy (at The Morris they have a La Marzocco GS3). You wind up with what I think is the best new coffee cocktail anyone has invented this century.

but first coffee book

So passionate and sure are we about the goodness of the Chartreuse Cappuccino that we politely begged Paul to let us include it in our new book, the coffee cookbook and cocktail compendium But First, Coffee. He politely obliged. This is especially exciting for us because it places us as part of the pantheon of recording these sorts of things, establishing record of where a drink came from, and preserving that information for future drinkers.

Below you’ll find a recipe for Paul Einbund’s Chartreuse Cappuccino, which you absolutely should make at home or in your cafe at the next possible convenience. Please take photos and tag us when you do. But even better, if you happen to live near the city of San Francisco (or would like to be induced into making travel plans), please join us on January 31st, 2024 at The Morris restaurant for an evening celebration of the Chartreuse Cappuccino. The event, which we are calling “Cappy Hour,” runs from 5-7pm, and is open to the public with drinks and signed books available to purchase in partnership with Omnivore Books, San Francisco’s premiere culinary bookseller.

Now, on to the drink. All of the ingredients (except for the espresso)ย are steamed together in a milk pitcher, all as one. Use palm sugar in a standard one to one ratio with water to make your syrup, and be sure to make a little extraโ€”it is glorious stuff, and can be readily ordered online if it’s unavailable in a store near you.

but first coffee chartreuse

The Chartreuse Cappuccino (created by Paul Einbund, The Morris, San Francisco)


1 ounce yellow Chartreuse

4 ounces whole milk or alternative milk of your choice

1 teaspoon palm sugar syrup

1 espresso shot


Add the Chartreuse, milk, and palm sugar syrup to a steaming pitcher for milk. Steam the mixture. Frothy, traditional cappuccino foam is your goal. The steamed milk will be fragrant and delicious.

Serve in good ceramic. A dusting of matcha powder on top of the finished drink does provide a bit of nice contrast, but is purely optional.

Join Sprudge + The Morris for “Cappy Hour” on Wednesday, January 31st. More details click here!

Jordan Michelman (@suitcasewine) is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network.ย 

banner advertising the book new rules of coffee