New Year's Eve

A Kind of Weird, Pretty Intense Jewel-Inspired Cocktail

December 29, 2016

Looking back on 2016, I don’t have much in the way of reflections other than a big, fat middle finger to the year. It will go down in memory as the year that killed off about 3/4's of my music and screen childhood icons of music and screen, everybody yelled at each other a lot, and The Great British Bake Off practically dissolved.

Closing out this year is going to take something a lot more potent than champagne. Instead of bubbles, I’m thinking jewels. That is to say, the old cocktail called the Bijou.

Bijou is French for jewel, supposedly because the three ingredients in the drink are jewel-toned: gin for diamonds, sweet vermouth for rubies, and Green Chartreuse for emeralds. It sounds like a pretty getup for New Year’s Eve doesn’t it? The Bijou is believed to have been invented by Harry Johnson, a bartender in the late 19th century who wrote the eponymous Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manuel. The cocktail’s a contemporary of the original Manhattans and martinis—and it’s certainly similarly moody and strong.

Photo by Emily Vikre

The original Bijou was made with a 1-to-1-to-1 ratio, like a negroni. But, with all three ingredients being anything but shy, they kind of beat each other over the head flavor-wise, vying for your attention, and making a drink that is altogether too unctuous and herbal for modern tastes. So contemporary bartenders, as they dusted off old drinks manuals, have also dusted off and updated the drink recipe, upping the gin and dialing back the chartreuse to make a drink that’s drier and softer. But just a little.

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Take your three jewels and mix them with ice, and what you are left with is a drink that I think is delicious, but also kind of brown, murky, intense, and weird. It’s kind like 2016 itself. Cheers to the coming year. I hear “there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” (We miss you Leonard!)

Have you heard of (or, possibly, even tried) the Bijou before? Let us know in the comments!

Fiveandspice, a.k.a. Emily Vikre, is a writer, self-described "food policy wonk," and co-founder of Vikre Distillery. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota. You can read more of her writing here.

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.