Champs Élysées – Original Recipe & History

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Champs Élysées Cocktail
Champs Élysées Cocktail

The History Of The Champs Élysées Cocktail.

Champs Élysées is French for Elysian Fields and is named after the famous French avenue that terminates at the Arc de Triomphe. The earliest record of this cocktail comes from the 1925 book “Drinks Long and Short” by Nina Toye & A. H. Adair. I love this drink, and while I have never given that book more than a passing glance, this recipe is a standout hit from it. Most people will know this cocktail recipe from the later Savoy Cocktail Book printed in 1930. The Savoy Cocktail Book is regarded as one of the best European cocktail books to come out of the period, and it’s fitting that it includes this recipe. It is an example of how cocktails changed during the American prohibition era. Even though it was first printed in the 1925 book “Drinks long and short, ” the Savoy helped introduce Americans to cocktails made with less common liqueurs and aperitifs such as Chartreuse, which were more familiar with European cocktails.

What Does The Champs Élysées Taste Like?

The oaky wine flavor of the brandy is perfectly balanced by the herbal flavor of the Green Chartreuse, and the acidic citrus is cut perfectly by the syrup. It tastes like an herbal brandy sour, but its proportions make it balanced and tasty. If you have never had this, you don’t know what you are missing—one of the top 5 drinks I have ever had.

The Most Important Ingredient

The most essential ingredient in the Champs Élysées is the Green Chartreuse. Its unique green herb flavor shapes the drink. Any ordinary brandy will work, and in fact, I wouldn’t use a lovely sipping one. It would be a waste since the Chartreuse becomes the primary flavor. Fortunately, there is only one Green Chartreuse, so you can’t make this wrong since it’s a pretty short list of ingredients. Unfortunately, Green Chartreuse costs around $60 a bottle, making this a pretty pricy drink to make at home.

Who Were Nina Toye & A. H. Adair?

Nina Toye and A. H. Adair are very mysterious, considering they wrote a book with the first appearance of a few famous cocktails. Simple google searches bring up almost nothing, and even trying to thumb through some digital archives brings up very little. One source says that Nina Toye & A. H. Adair was a pseudonym for J. E. Plowman. I did locate a former WWI British officer named J. E. Plowman but nothing else on the name. The online source also says the book’s french translation “Petits Et Grands Verres” uses a different pseudonym of Philibert Le Huby, but I found that book still lists Nina Toye and A. H. Adair as the authors. Every reference I found to J. E. Plowman seems to be a copy-paste/scrape of the same information. Another lead brought me to American author Ann Huston Miller whose nickname was Nina, who eventually married English music critic and educator John Francis Toye. I could not find any books published under the name Ann Huston Miller, but I did find several other books under the name Nina Toye. A book in 1916 called “Death Rider,” A book in 1921 called “The Shadow of Fear,” and a book in 1935 called “The Twice Murdered Man.” A. H. Adair was a British food critic and food writer whose full name was Alec Henry Adair. So to me, it appears that an author and food critic without prior bartending experience but with a passion for cocktails came together to produce this one-off cocktail book.

Recipe Resources

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Champs Élysées Cocktail

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Course: DrinksCuisine: British
Servings

1

servings
Calories

202

kcal
ABV

32%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make a classic Champs Élysées Cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

  • 1/3 oz Lemon Juice

  • 1/3 oz Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 oz Green Chartreuse

  • 1.5 oz Brandy

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in the shaker. Add ice to the shaker.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Strain into glass to remove ice shards

Notes

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2 Comments

  1. Jim says:

    This was not created by Harry Craddock nor did it come from the 1934 Savoy cocktail book. It was printed in the 1925 cocktail book Drinks Long and Short by Nuna Toye & Arthur H. Adair

    1. Tomas Curras says:

      Thank you that’s good to know. I will check it out and update the article to reflect that. I don’t think I have that book much attention but I will see if there are any other cocktails that come from it too.

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