A dark orange glass of génépy on a yellow background.
Photo: Chelsie Craig

Stock Your Bar With This Lesser-Known Liqueur from the Alps

The herbaceous drink, long consumed by French and Swiss mountain climbers, makes its way Stateside.
By Aileen Kwun
September 26, 2020
2 minute read

In like a lion—and maybe out like a lion, too—summer has passed; it’s suddenly fall. And as our minds wander off to the winter season ahead, we find our curiosities piqued by génépy: an après-ski herbal liqueur enjoyed year-round in the Alpine region, where the rare génépi floral herb, a close relative to the more hardy wormwood, grows in rock crevices and among glacial debris at an altitude of some 650 feet above sea level. Distilled, it yields a distinctly bitter flavor profile that’s reminiscent of green Chartreuse, chamomile, or absinthe. In more traditional times, the plant was used as an herbal medicine to cure fatigue, respiratory infection, and “hot and cold” ailments.

Though less commonly imbibed in the U.S, there’s a smattering of good stuff to be found Stateside: The small-batch Brooklyn distillers Forthave Spirits have just produced a version called Yellow, which, like its other offerings (including Red, a botanical aperitif, and Blue, an American dry gin), is simply named for its dominant hue. Genepy Herbetet, made by Italy’s family-run Distilleria Alpe, is another excellent pick, infused with additional aromatics including oregano, mint, and cinnamon that make for a zippy, refreshing taste. Made with herbs sourced from Herbetet Peak, located on the Gran Paradiso mountain in the Graian Alps, it’s fairly high-proof, at 38 percent A.B.V.—some bite that’s sure to warm your bones. We recommend sipping it on ice, with a sprig of basil thrown in for good measure.