Thursday, June 7, 2012

Crème de Violette adds pop of color and sweetness to cocktails

While reviewing the Louisiana Restaurant Association Facebook newsfeed yesterday, we saw a photo of a lemonade cocktail made with Crème de Violette that was a gorgeous shade of lavender. Of all the colors of cocktails out there, that one is not common, thus it immediately sparked our interest.

Crème de Violette, a product of Rothmam & Winter and made in Austria, was introduced at the request of bar specialists for classic cocktails such as the Aviation and the Blue Moon and by sommeliers for champagne cocktails. It is distributed in the U.S. and as we imbibe at various restaurants and watering holes, we’ve seen its popularity grow.

The Aviation cocktail dates to 1916 as air flight was gaining momentum. Originally the recipe included a small amount of violet, but as time went on, it became scarce and procurement was nearly impossible. As a result, the violet was eliminated from printed recipes. But in recent years, the elixir is back and has returned to its rightful and original place in the recipe books and bartenders’ acumen.

The Aviation also features another liqueur, Luxardo Maraschino, which adds an intense aroma to cocktails. Distilled in Italy, it is made from marsca, a sour cherry variety exclusively cultivated by Luxardo, and also includes honey for sweetness and notes of an almond-like flavor from the crushed pits of the cherry.  Luxardo Maraschino also produces jarred cherries for cocktails that are added to cocktails commonly at craft bars.

1 ½ Dry Gin
½ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
½ oz Crème de Violette
1 tsp.  Luxardo maraschino liqueur
Stir with ice & strain

We also like this classic recipe by David Embury found in the 1948 book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.

Blue Moon
2 oz Dry Gin
½ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
½ oz Crème de Violette
Shake with ice and strain

It is produced from the Queen Charlotte and March Violets found in the Alps. Crème de Violette captures their fragrance, vibrant colors and taste. The liqueur is produced from a careful maceration of the flowers in “Weinbrand” which is distilled from grapes, with cane sugar added for sweetness.  

Crème de Violette over its three generations, Destillerie Purkhart has produced the liqueur by special request of its regional gastronomy customers. In these local markets, the buyers are most often the “Konditorei” who will use the Violette in special cakes and chocolates.

It was the first true product of its type available in a decade when we first encountered it in 2009 at Tales of the Cocktail, a five-day series of tasting rooms, seminars and parties, this year July 25-29 in New Orleans.

Have you encountered Crème de Violette during your drinking adventures? After reading this, are you curious to try the product?

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