The Turning World is our signature drink, with roots dating back to the mid-19th century. Although it was only created in 2017, it could just as easily have been served in American bars and grand cafés over 150 years ago. We introduce the drink and go on a search for clues.
45 ml Ardbeg 10 years
30 ml Chartreuse verte
The idea for this drink first came to us in February 2013. At that time we read that Ardbeg was supposed to harmonise very well with peach flavours, and in the absence of a peach liqueur or spirit we tried Licor 43. This was not too bad in the result, or so we thought at the time, but something was still missing. Numerous attempts were made, nothing seemed to harmonise quite right, and finally we came across the green Chartreuse. This was the crucial missing ingredient, the one that had been missing all along. A key ingredient for this drink, without which it would not work. So the first version was born. But it was still a long way to the final version. We kept losing sight of this drink, and it would take until February 2017 before we were finally satisfied and decided to introduce it.
In retrospect, we have to admit that the first version was too sweet and unbalanced, we don’t want to hide that here, because it is part of the history of the drink and also plays a role in its naming. Although we only used three ingredients, they were too many.
In this context, we always like to remember a lecture at the Bar Convent Berlin. In 2013, Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown spoke about the importance of simplicity in their presentation “The Fine Art of Simplicity”. One image in particular stuck in our minds. They talked about how Audrey Saunders, in her Pegu Club, was always being introduced to new drinks with lots of ingredients by young bartenders, and Audrey’s criticism of them would usually be that the drink was already quite good, but that they should think about what ingredients they could take away without losing the character of the drink. This preference for simplicity suits us very well, and also corresponds to our basic conviction that all really good drinks are built from a maximum of three ingredients, optionally with additional bitters.
So we also took her instruction as an incentive for us to find the true essence of our drink. It turned out just how right she was in her opinion. Chartreuse is the key ingredient, not the peach flavour. After removing the latter, only the true character of this drink emerged. Nothing is missing, but nothing can be taken away either. It sounds so simple, but the way there was not for us.
With this history of development in mind, it is clear what role Chartreuse plays in this drink. It is the indispensable ingredient that must be added to the whiskey. That is why Chartreuse is the starting point for the naming of Turning World. Since Chartreuse is produced by the Carthusians and the emblem of the Carthusian Order is on the bottle, the name is derived from the motto of the Carthusians: Stat crux dum volvitur orbis – The cross stands firm while the world turns. But since the world also turns if you drink too much of this delicacy, we also understand the name to be ambiguous.
The Turning World in historical context
Of course, after finishing the final recipe, we were very interested to find out if and how the Turning World is connected to the past. We were surprised that the combination of whiskey and chartreuse had not been published anywhere before. So from that point of view, Turning World is something really new.
But the Turning World breathes the spirit of the 19th century and could also have been created around 1850. In the course of our research on the whiskey cocktail and the old-fashioned cocktail, we came across a newspaper article in the New York Tribune that was also printed in the New Ulm Weekly Review on 31 December 1884.  The article is about the change in drinking habits. In the narrative presented, a young fellow sips an elegant Chartreuse, while an old man tightly clutches his four-fingered pour of Rye whiskey. It is noted that the younger people went to grand cafés, such as the famous Hoffman House in New York, because they had a lot of free time. The older people, on the other hand, worked harder and had less time for their drink. The older interlocutor sums it up:
„We drank in those days, I can assure you. We dip not sip … We didn’t waste any time about it, either. Just stood up to the bar and drank our liquor down like men. Sometimes we downed it, and sometimes it downed us. … You young fellows have changed all that, and I’ll tell you frankly that I think the change is for the better. We old fellows sneer and sniff about it, may be, but the change that has come over the drink habits of New York has left us not so thoroughly American perhaps, but at any rate healthier and more respectable.”
The two men end their conversation with the older man apparently ordering what seems to be an appropriate compromise: an Old-Fashioned Cocktail. We will go into detail about the development of the whiskey cocktail into the old-fashioned cocktail in a separate post, but this much can be said in this context: Originally, a cocktail (and thus the whiskey cocktail) was intended to be drunk quickly, which is why it was served without ice. Later, however, it developed into a drink that people took their time over and enjoyed in small sips. To avoid heating, a large piece of ice was added and the old-fashioned cocktail was born. [3-19] This change in drinking habits had already taken place before 1867, for in that year John Oxenford, a reporter for the Liverpool Daily Post sent to New York for two months, reported on it. [3-19]
The Chartreuse preferred by the younger ones in the article was already available in the USA since at least the 1850s, we have found evidence of this in American newspapers.   So it turns out that the Chartreuse shot, which is still popular with bartenders today, is not a newfangled invention but dates back to the middle of the 19th century. Obviously, Chartreuse was not only drunk pure, but in later times also enriched with some bitters. This mixture is listed in the historical recipe books as “Sam Ward”. The “Sam Ward” thus reflects the preference of the time for Chartreuse. The recipe was first printed in 1884 by George Winter. In his case, however, the drink does not correspond to what – if you look at all published recipes – constitutes this drink, because he also uses curaçao, and that is a rare exception. More interesting for us at this point is therefore the recipe from 1887 reproduced by Charlie Paul:
Sam Ward. Charlie Paul, 1887.
Fill a tumbler with chipped ice; put in three or
four drops of Angostura bitters, a good liqueurglass
of green chartreuse; shake well, and strain
One would have to write a separate post about the Sam Ward, but at this point we do not want to leave unmentioned that it was probably prepared with yellow Chartreuse – at least in the published recipes, which all date from later times. This may have been different before 1887, and even Charlie Winter writes only of “Chartreuse”, which rather points to the standard, green Chartreuse. At least this must have been a very popular drink, because many printed recipes can be found.
With this historical background, we can now relate the Turning World to the past. As we have described, we are in the context of the evolution of the whiskey cocktail into the old-fashioned cocktail, the preference for chartreuse and the associated Sam Ward.
For a better understanding, let’s look at the whiskey cocktail as Jerry Thomas prepared it in 1862:
Whiskey Cocktail. Jerry Thomas, 1862.
(Use small bar glass)
3 or 4 dashes of gum syrup.
2 do. bitters (Bogart’s).
1 wine-glass of whiskey, and a piece of lemon peel.
Fill one-third full of fine ice; shake and straln in a fancy
As we have read, the younger ones liked a glass of Chartreuse, and it was agreed in the 1887 newspaper article that an old-fashioned cocktail was a cross-generational compromise. The Turning World – had it existed at the time – could also have been such a compromise. It takes the base spirit from the whiskey cocktail (which, admittedly, as an imported Scotch, would not have been standard whiskey), dispenses with the lemon zest, and replaces the Boker’s Bitters (for these are meant in Jerry Thomas’ recipe) with the bitter herbs of Chartreuse, which also serves as a source of sugar. Charmingly, the Turning World does not need cooling by an ice cube, on the contrary, this harms and dilutes too much. Instead, the drink changes through warming, inviting you to linger with it for a longer time. So for us, the Turning World is almost more suitable than an old-fashioned cocktail to act as a generation-transcending bridge between old and new drinking habits, between whiskey cocktail and chartreuse. In this way, the Turning World reflects the spirit of the 1850s to 1880s and could also have been created and popular at that time.
Interestingly, we found a drink similar to Turning World. It is published by Lawrence Brochman in 1957 and is called there S&C Cocktail, in reference to a B&B, because it uses scotch and yellow chartreuse in equal parts.
- https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carthusian_coat_of_arms-2006_04_22.png: Coat of arms of the Carthusian order.
- http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89064939/1884-12-31/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1884&index=0&rows=20&words=rye+tawny&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=&date2=1884&proxtext=%22tawny+rye%22&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1: Bar-Room and Cafe. New Ulm Weekly Review, 31. December 1884, Page 1.
- Robert Simonson: The old-fashioned: the story of the world’s first classic cocktail, with recipes and lore. ISBN 978-1-60774-535-8. New York, Ten Speed Press, 2014.
- http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1854-12-13/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1789&sort=date&rows=20&words=Chartreuse&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=18&state=&date2=1924&proxtext=chartreuse&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=2: Evening Star, 13. December 1854, Page 3.
- http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83009573/1859-02-22/ed-1/seq-4/#date1=1789&sort=date&rows=20&words=Chartreuse&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=1&state=&date2=1924&proxtext=chartreuse&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=3: The Daily Exchange, 22. February 1859, Page 4.
1957 Lawrence Blochman: Here’s How. Seite 36. S & C Cocktail.
1 part Scotch 1 part yellow Chartreuse
Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass. If you reverse
the initials — C & S — and pour the same ingredients
half and half into a liqueur glass, in the manner of a
B & B, you have an after-dinner cordial reminiscent of
1957 Lawrence Blochman: Here’s How. Seite 99. C & S.
Something in the manner of a B & B, only the ingredi-
ents are Chartreuse (yellow) and Scotch.