Just five years ago, génépy (or genepi, as it is more commonly called in Italy) remained fairly unknown outside its native Europe. The herbal liqueur—made by steeping its same-named plant génépy, aka artemisia, in neutral alcohol—has long been a staple of après-ski traditions, often served neat or simply topped with tonic. Today, as the category continues to grow stateside—including with domestically made expressions—génépy has graduated from alpine obscurity to backbar staple, becoming a popular go-to in cocktails for a hit of herbal complexity without the intensity, or scarcity, of its cousin Chartreuse.
Stirred with gin, Cocchi Americano and Suze, génépy adds an herbal twist to Dante’s alpine spin on the White Negroni, appropriately called the Alpine Negroni. Thrown in a shaker with mezcal, lemon juice and basil, génépy—not as sweet as yellow Chartreuse, nor as domineering as green—adds cooling complexity to the El Pepe, a reimagined Margarita. (In another Marg riff, the Greenbelt, the herbal liqueur complements a spicy, vegetal verdita.) Sitting somewhere between the two is Zac Sorensen’s Swiss Kiss, which marries gin, génépy and lemon juice and a float of absinthe for a drink that bartender Toby Maloney describes as being “as cool and sophisticated as a Swiss diplomat at a party of spies.”
But génépy works well alongside more than just white spirits. In fact, it stands on its own in the Pineapple Garibaldi for an alpine-meets-tropical take on the fluffy aperitivo. In Andrew King’s Thirsty Monk, a twist on the Whiskey Sour, génépy and Bénédictine join forces to add a spiced herbal layer to the expected bourbon and lemon juice. Ryan Maybee’s In The Pines, meanwhile, sees génépy complement a base of chamomile-infused rye, vanilla syrup and lemon juice all topped with a splash of sparkling wine.
At San Francisco’s ABV, where the bar staff are known to drink ice-cold génépy topped with a few dashes of Angostura bitters, bartender Ryan Fitzgerald also sneaks it into a straightforward play on the Scotch and soda. His High Altitude Highball blends Japanese whisky, namely Hakushu, with génépy and soda water. “Both Hakushu and génépy come from mountain areas—and both are influenced by the region they come from,” he says.
Finally, the alpine ingredient works well alongside comforting, cozy flavors like coffee and cacao. “One of my favorite uses for génépy is as a sweetener for heavy cream,” says Troy Sidle, former bartender at New York’s Pouring Ribbons. In the Strong Start, he shakes the two ingredients together with a pinch of salt for a frothy, aromatic topper to the rum-spiked coffee. Maybee, on the other hand, brings cream and coffee cordial together with the liqueur, crème de cacao and absinthe for the Génépy Suisse. The extra wintry drink channels an elevated, adult mocha. “The sweeter qualities of the cacao and coffee blend beautifully with absinthe, and work equally well with génépy,” he says.