Lately, I've begun thinking about using aperitifs as the "goods" for drink combinations, instead of relying on the traditional spirits--i.e., the "white goods" of gin, white rum, vodka, teqiula, or "brown goods" of whisky (scotch and bourbon), dark rum, brandy, and so forth.
There is the consideration of alcohol content, since aperitifs invariably have a lower alcohol content than spirits. They're lighter, carry less punch, and appeal more to the delicate sensibilities of the ladies.
In addition, by using spirits as additives to mixes, you can increase the number of distinctive, different kinds of flavors. After all, each different kind of alcoholic beverage relies on a specific flavor, which is the result of aboriginal ingredients of each kind of source product in nature, as well as the processes, and finally the flavorings that are added to make its distinct character. Variety, as always, is the spice of life. Even different traditional spirits, such as gin, differ from brand to brand, based on the subtly separate augmentations of spice. In scotch, the kinds of influence upon flavor include literally everything, including the distillery's proximity to sea air!
So here is a drink "built" upon a white, or dry vermouth (which Dubonnet is) aperitif. Chartreuse is of course a high alcohol fortified liqueur spirit. Most aperitifs or fortified spirits have more vivid flavors than straight spirits do, though most scotches and bourbons have plenty of flavor, some overpoweringly so. Which is why, come to think of it, more "generic" spirits are better for mixing, since their generic taste is a more reliable mixer than an unusually distinctive one. And, of course, one wouldn't "waste" a very fine or expensive scotch in a cocktail, since it's intended to be (and is best) appreciated on its own.
The following combination could be done by beginning with gin or vodka, as I have done in the past. The flavor wouldn't be much different, though its strength would be. The degree of alcohol content isn't, per se, something I think much about when mixing spirits. In appreciating wines or single malts, on the contrary, it's a crucial element. "Big reds" and "big scotches" tend to be stronger in alcohol--I'm not sure why, but it may have something to do with the intensity of the flavor, though potency in itself isn't a quality I would identify. Tea drinkers will claim that really intense flavors occur at the stronger end of the spectrum, and I don't disagree with them.
Cocktails aren't meant as a stimulant, but many people may regard them merely as a means to an end--becoming mildly inebriated. The effect alcohol has on the brain isn't something everyone enjoys, and I wouldn't pretend that everyone can enjoy it in the same measure. Unless you're a rich man, or are born into the wine-making or spirit-making business, you don't have any chance of being creative with wine or whisky. At least with cocktails, you can, with a little investment, create your own drinks, experimenting with different combinations that no one else has ever tried before--which is why I do it, partly as a pastime. So, herewith, another nameless masterpiece from the stainless steel counter.
4 parts Dubonnet Blanc
1 part yellow Chartreuse
3/4 part Genepi des Alpes
1/2 part lime juice
Shaken vigorously and served up in a frosted cocktail glass. A kinder and gentler concoction, perhaps, once again maybe for the ladies. New Year's approaches. What better time to indulge?