Crafting a Sweet and Herbal Yellow Jacket Cocktail

Crafting a Sweet and Herbal Yellow Jacket Cocktail

The Yellow Jacket is a gin-based cocktail that offers a delightful balance of sweet and herbal flavors. This modern classic was created by renowned bartenders Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric of Employees Only in New York City. With its alluring golden hue and notes of elderflower, honey, and herbs, the Yellow Jacket makes for a unique and tempting libation.

A Closer Look at the Yellow Jacket’s Ingredients

The Yellow Jacket brings together several liqueurs and spirits to create its distinct flavor profile:

  • Gin: The base spirit used is often a floral gin like Malfy Gin con Limone1 to complement the other ingredients. The juniper notes of gin pair nicely with the herbal Yellow Chartreuse.
  • Yellow Chartreuse: This French liqueur lends its namesake yellow color along with intense herbal and honeyed flavors thanks to its blend of over 130 flowers and plants. The high-proof 80-proof 80 proof Chartreuse brings sweetness and complexity.
  • St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur: St. Germain imparts fragrant elderflower notes along with subtle fruit flavors. As a lower-proof liqueur, it lightens the texture.
  • Honey Syrup: A homemade honey syrup incorporates the sweetness and viscosity needed to balance the other strong liqueurs.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon brightens up the rich herbal and floral flavors and adds acidity.
  • Orange Bitters: Bitters lend subtle bitterness and citrus aroma.

When combined skillfully, these ingredients yield a cocktail greater than the sum of its parts. The gin, Chartreuse, and St. Germain mingle in an herbal harmony, with the lemon and honey providing perfect supporting roles.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Mixing Up This Cocktail

Making a proper Yellow Jacket is simple, though precise measurements are key to achieving the ideal balance.

You will need:

  • Cocktail shaker
  • Jigger or other measuring device
  • Barspoon
  • Coupe glass or cocktail glass
  • Lemon twist for garnish


  • 2 oz (60ml) gin
  • 1⁄2 oz (15ml) Yellow Chartreuse
  • 1 oz (30ml) St. Germain
  • 1 oz (30ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 oz (15ml) honey syrup
  • 2-3 dashes orange bitters


  1. Add all the ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds until thoroughly chilled.
  3. Fine-strain into a coupe glass to remove any ice shards or particles.
  4. Garnish with a lemon twist to express oils and add a final citrus spritz.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tips for the Best Yellow Jacket

  • Use a floral gin like Malfy Gin Rosa or a citrus-forward gin to complement the herbal notes
  • Make rich honey syrup from quality artisanal honey for texture and sweetness
  • Shake energetically for at least 10 seconds to properly dilute and chill
  • Garnish with a fresh lemon twist to enhance citrus aromas
  • Serve in a vintage coupe glass or Nick and Nora glass to showcase its lovely golden hue
Yellow Jacket Cocktail

- 2 oz gin 
- 1⁄2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
- 1 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1⁄2 oz honey syrup  
- Orange bitters
- Lemon twist garnish

The Storied History Behind the Cocktail

While the Yellow Jacket only dates back to the early 2000s, there are some intriguing historical details behind its main ingredients that are worth highlighting.

  • Yellow Chartreuse has an especially rich backstory, as it has been made for over 400 years by the Carthusian Monks according to an ancient manuscript. The original 130+ botanical recipe was gifted to the monks in 1605 by French marshal François Annibal d’Estrées. To this day, the complex liqueur is still produced at the monks’ Voiron Charterhouse in France.
  • St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur also has origins in France, first created by Robert Cooper in 2007. He was inspired by the handcrafted elderflower syrups and cordials made in the French Alps, so he set out to capture the delicate flavor of elderflowers in liqueur form.

So while the Yellow Jacket is a modern drink, it brings together two liqueurs with long legacies spanning back centuries and continents – Elderflower from the French Alps and Chartreuse from the Carthusian monks.

Perfect Occasions for This Gin Cocktail

The Yellow Jacket makes for an excellent before-dinner cocktail, as it whets the appetite with its array of complex flavors. Its richness and herbal notes make it a nice aperitif. Here are some perfect occasions for serving the Yellow Jacket:

  • Date nights – Elevate a romantic dinner for two with a Yellow Jacket cocktail. Its golden hue and alluring bouquet set a seductive mood.
  • Spring and Summer gatherings – The St. Germain elderflower liqueur evokes cool crisp evenings, making the Yellow Jacket ideal for patio parties and alfresco dining.
  • Dinner with friends – Impress your guests with a skillfully crafted Yellow Jacket before a dinner party. Its flavor provides interesting conversation fodder about the historical Chartreuse monks.
  • Backyard barbecues – The Yellow Jacket isn’t just for formal occasions! Its herbal kick pairs nicely with smoky barbecue flavors.

No matter the season or reason, the Yellow Jacket is sure to delight. Its balance of sweet elderflower, rich honey, bright citrus, and complex herbal liqueur makes for a cocktail that excites the senses.

Key Takeaways for Making Yellow Jacket Cocktails

  • Use a floral gin like Malfy or citrus gin as the base spirit
  • Yellow Chartreuse and St. Germain are key for herbal and floral notes
  • Homemade honey syrup provides viscosity and a sweet balance
  • Shake energetically with ice for at least 10-15 seconds
  • Garnish with a lemon twist to finish
  • Serves well as an aperitif cocktail due to its complexity
  • Its gold color and alluring flavors set a romantic mood

Frequently Asked Questions About the Yellow Jacket

What type of glass should I serve the Yellow Jacket in?

A vintage coupe glass or Nick & Nora glass helps showcase the lovely golden color and bubbles. The shape of these glasses also concentrates the aromas.

What’s the difference between green and yellow Chartreuse?

Green Chartreuse is higher proof at 110 and has a more assertive herbal flavor, while Yellow Chartreuse is 80 proof with more honey and saffron notes. Yellow Chartreuse makes the best base for a Yellow Jacket.

Could I make this cocktail with gin only?

While you could try it, the omission of the St. Germain and Yellow Chartreuse would significantly change the flavor. The herbal, floral, and honey notes of those liqueurs are essential.

What kind of honey works best?

Use mild floral artisanal honey or wildflower honey. Clovers, orange blossom, or lavender honey would be excellent choices to complement the botanicals.

Can I use something besides lemon juice?

Lemon is best for adding bright acidity to balance the rich herbal liqueurs. Lime would work in a pinch but doesn’t have the right flavor profile.

I hope this gives you plenty of tips, history, and info to craft an amazing Yellow Jacket cocktail! Let me know if you have any other questions. Cheers!

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