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 namesake “génépy,” or 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 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. Throw it in a shaker with mezcal, lemon juice and basil, and génépy—not as sweet as yellow Chartreuse, nor as domineering as green—adds cooling complexity to the El Pepe, a reimagined Margarita. 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 Andrew King’s Thirsty Monk, a twist on the Whiskey Sour, génépy and Benedictine 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. “They work great together in this simple cocktail.”