Violette Heaven: Part Deux
Here we go with part two of our two part series regarding violette liqueurs. Why a two part series you ask? Well, due to the insanity of my schedule, I figured I could take one topic and spread it over two posts to keep you coming back for more (yeah I’m sneaky and conniving like that). In case you missed the first post, it can be read here.
We’ve covered tasting notes on three of five different crème de violette’s in descending order so far, therefore without further ado, here are the top two violette liqueurs in my collection.
2. G. MICLO LIQUEUR DE VIOLETTE
This liqueur is easily the lightest in hue with a nice pale lavender color. The nose has a slightly musty air about it, but smells the most like a flower than any of the five samples. Light and elegant with a subtle violette palate this is a fine specimen although I did find that I had to increase the quantity of liqueur used in cocktail recipes when using this brand as compared to the others. Due to the smaller brix of G. Miclo one can add more violette to a recipe and not have to be overly concerned about the sweetness of the cocktail taking over.
Conclusion: Fantastic if you can get it. Rumor is that it can occasionally be found at Sam’s.
1. HERMES VIOLET
It’s fitting that the rarest and also most difficult to acquire brand of violette is also the best. Made in Japan, Hermes of Suntory fame has long been known to make great liqueurs and bitters. Their violet is no exception. A rich deep purple, Hermes has a nice sweet flowery nose. Taken straight, this is in my humble opinion, the brand with the best effect on the palate. Deep sweet waves of floral goodness pass over the tongue, accompanied with what is easily the longest finish of the five violettes tasted.
Conclusion: if you have extremely deep pockets, pick up this bottle. While the product itself isn’t terribly expensive, shipping will cost you an arm and a leg. Your other option will be to take a trip to Japan, but last time I checked, that’ll run you even more than the shipping costs.
Now that I’ve given you a run-down of the five violettes that I have at my disposal I also feel the need to give you a caveat. The tasting notes given are based on the spirit tasted straight. When the violette is mixed with cocktails it becomes a whole different ball game. With only one exception (Monin) each one of these liqueurs will make a good cocktail (a perfect example of this was my discovery that the Rothman’s made a better Aviation than the Hermes’).
A more common example of this phenomenon occurs when people ask me which brand of maraschino tastes best. While I would never choose Stock, both Luxardo and Maraska make a good maraschino, with one shining in a certain set of cocktails and the other shining in a different set. Is one better than the other? In my mind the answer is: no, they both have their uses.
While we are on the subject of maraschino, let me get this off of my chest: it is pronounced mar-uh-skee-noh, not mar-uh-shee-noh. The cherries originally came from the marasca cherry, which is why one should use the hard “c”, just as one does when saying bruschetta (tell me you still don’t say brush-ett-uh).
We’ve talked about the spirits, now let’s deal with the cocktail end of things and enjoy an:
2 oz gin
¼ oz absinthe
¼ oz dry vermouth
¼ oz violette
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
stir with ice
strain into an iced cocktail glass
garnish with a lemon twist