I've got a real classic for you today - the Bijou. It may not show up on a lot of menus these days, but this elegant gin cocktail is over 100 years old. The name, which means "jewel" in French, is a reference to the gemlike hues of the three main ingredients: gin (diamond), sweet vermouth (ruby), and Green Chartreuse (emerald). The traditional recipe for the Bijou is equal parts of these three ingredients, plus a dash of orange bitters.
I eagerly mixed up this equal-parts cocktail, but when I took a sip, I grimaced. The Chartreuse completely dominated the gin and vermouth, making it way too sweet and not at all balanced, at least to my taste. I immediately understood why a lot of modern recipes for the Bijou, like these from Punch and Tuxedo No. 2, tweak the recipe a bit. I tried some variations and decided that this one from Imbibe is my favorite, with more gin, less Chartreuse, and two dashes of bitters. With these proportions, I think the cocktail really takes on the elegant, herbal flavor it's meant to have.
History: The first recipe for the Bijou that appeared in print, in C. F. Lawlor's 1895 book The Mixicologist, was a bit different from the version that ended up standing the test of time. Lawlor's recipe is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Grand Marnier, an orange liqueur that probably wouldn't have helped much with the issue of balance and sweetness. Five years later, the equal-parts-plus-orange-bitters version of the recipe appeared in Harry Johnson's Bartenders' Manual. As far as I know, these are our only two clues about the origins of the Bijou.
Bijou1 1/2 oz. gin
1 oz. sweet vermouth
3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
2 dashes orange bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a brandied cherry and a lemon twist.
Recipe adapted from The New Cocktail Hour via Imbibe.