During the late 1970s Dick Lord and Bob Henklein (my father) visited the Charthusian Monastery in the Charteuse Mountains near Grenoble, France. Their mission: to discover a way to market a liqueur produced by the monks to potential enthusiasts in the U.S. As it turns out, however, the Charthusians didn't really want to sell a lot of their elixir: they considered it medicinal and not an item they wanted to see introduced to the hedonistic, besotted jet set. Awkward!
Still, Bob and Dick had a mission to fulfill. My Dad, being ever the cocktail-ier, began to experiment. His initial conclusion? This was going to be a tough one. Chartreuse liqueur (in either color [or herbal configuration]) did not lend itself well to mixing, having a rather unique and "vegetal" flavor. But Bob was not to be discouraged.
Eventually he hit upon a tallish drink, a sort of summer-ish cool drink that he felt would fill all the requirements. He named the drink the "Swampwater" because the Green Chartreuse admixture leant the beverage a green color, and the pineapple juice base rendered it cloudy. The original Swampwater was simply that. Eventually it grew to include lime juice, arrack, and celery bitters in the mix. An interesting and somewhat intimidating ladle of grog if ever there was one.
I wanted youse most esteemed enthusiasts to have the original story of the drink's creation: i'm not sure if it has been written down anywhere else. A web search revealed many ersatz recipes claiming to be "swamp water" drinks. Most are not the original recipe. But "The Cocktail Virigin [Slut]" has the original recipe posted, and the original advertisement my Dad put together featuring a cartoon alligator.