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:

ATTENTION COCKTAIL
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

Pictures by:
Jamie Boudreau
www.vesselseattle.com

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~ by Jamie Boudreau on February 10, 2008.

26 Responses to “Violette Heaven: Part Deux”

  1. I tried this out at home last night and the absinthe (Lucid) really got my attention. I may try lowering the amount even further to suit my taste. I liked the flavor, but the absinthe dominated over the Gordon’s, Noilly Prat, and Rothman & Winter’s I used.

    What really drives me to comment, is the picture. Absolutely beautiful. I’ve been on the lookout for a similar glass, but haven’t had much success yet. I suppose only one of these glasses exists and you have it?

  2. Hello Jamie,

    I like your website.Where do you get your glassware at?

  3. We did a similar taste test (we had nine!), and it really got interesting when letting each Violette sit for 5 to 10 minutes once poured, and similarly tested in well shaken aviations. Against the fresh pour, the profile changed much more so for those that used violet oils in production, a matter of dissipation of aroma. I’d be curious to hear whether or not your results are the same.

    The durability testing also comes into play with the growing spectrum of orange bitters and their respective use of oils.

  4. Matt & gregory:
    We get all of our glasses from antique shops, which makes them unique and unfortunately difficult to acquire.

  5. I read about a Lavender Gimlet and was wondering if you think creme de violette is what’s in it.

  6. have you gotten a chance to try the Benoit Serres from outside Toulousse? good stuff…

  7. paul:
    I have not

  8. Jeremy:
    I would hope not.

  9. The Attention Cocktail is amazing! I just got hold of a bottle of Briottet Creme de Violette (very nice by the way) and this is the second drink I am trying with it. I started with an Aviation.

    Is the Attention a reworking of the Atty out of the Savoy?

  10. [...] I also tried the Attention Cocktail from Jamie Boudreau’s site. I did not have a true absinthe handy, so I used Henri Bardoin [...]

  11. I have tried several versions of this astonishing cocktail. First, I used an absinthe substitute (Absente aux plantes d’absinthe) + Gordon’s gin + Noilly Prat + a violette liqueur which I don’t remember the brand (but not one of the 5 you mentioned). I had no orange bitters, so I tried the recipe excluding the bitters, then I tried it with Angostura. It was better without the Angostura. Then, I aquired a bottle of Marteau absinthe, and I had the idea to substitute the orange bitters by a half tea spoon of Amer Picon. The result was far more interesting with these new ingredients.
    Now I have aquired a bottle of Plymouth (something extremely difficult to find in France, surprisingly) and I have been shipped several bottles of bitters (Peychaud’s and Regan’s) from the U.S. Therefore, I am going to make this cocktail again with the adequate ingredients.

    BTW, don’t you think, Dear Mister Boudreau, that absinthe would work nicely with Chartreuse—probably with gin and some kind of bitters?

  12. Hot Verte:
    I do.

  13. Oh my but this Attention Cocktail was lovely. Thank you! http://www.flickr.com/photos/dinah/3324216647/

  14. Jamie, I loved the Violette write up, and the fizz is very refreshing, but I’m having trouble believing the Attention is worth any. I put the recipe in the hands of an amazing bartender, with just about every possible ingredient known to man at his disposal. He and one of his associates made 3 different versions, and none were remarkable. As written, the flavors just do not ‘play nice’. They fight for dominance and leave a muddied flavor profile with no balance. The closest we came to something I would consider serving a paying customer was adding a bar spoon of simple and subtracting one of Violette from your initial recipe. The fat settled things just enough to make the drink palatable. Still, the absinthe and vermouth both seemed to be playing the wrong notes. While beautiful in your picture, in person the color of the cocktail was also rather off-putting.

  15. Reader:
    Sorry that you had a bad experience. The cocktail is quite lovely and quite popular here in Seattle.
    If the color is off putting it’s because you’re using the wrong absinthe: you need to use a blanche, not a verte. If you use a blanche the only spirit with color is the violette and the bitters.
    If the flavour doesn’t play, it is probably again due to the absinthe and possibly the other ingredients used. Try Plymouth gin, Noilly Pratt vermouth (make sure it’s fresh), Hermes violette and a nice light blanche absinthe.
    The Attention has been around for a century, if done properly it’s a lovely drink (provided that you like absinthe and violettte in the first place)

  16. When I read your post: violette heaven 2 about over year ago I clicked the japanese link and bought a crowd of bottles, including the hermes violette, the curaçao, and the bitters. They arrived a few weeks later in seperate packages, each bottle carefully wrapped in japanese newspapers and protected by ingeniously applied plastic flower pots. Most bottles are sensational – trouble is, I’d like to get more, and the japanese site has had an ‘out of stock’ message up on all hermes products for a long time; possibly theyre out of flower pots.
    I live in Denmark – would you know where to get hermes products online?

  17. Niels:
    Rumour on the street is that the Hermes line is being discontinued….

  18. zut alors!

  19. i picked up a bottle of rothman & winters at whole foods in chicago…loving my first tastes of a true aviation. tonight i made the attention cocktail. first impressions lead me to say too much absinthe. however, i love my bottle of absinthe edouard – so not such a bad thing. overall, a great cocktail. i still feel that perhaps 1/8 oz or a rinse would prove better. i understand this cocktail is over 70 years old. do we know the original recipe/proportions?

  20. kevin:
    an earlier recipe:
    stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
    1 oz gin
    1/2 oz pastis
    1/2 oz dry vermouth
    1/2 oz creme de violette
    2 dashes orange bitters
    Serve in a cocktail glass

  21. Hi,

    We, in New Zealand seem to have Creme de Violette in every bar but I have never seen any one use it, probably due to lack of cocktail knowledge and the Violette I see the most is in fact Monin, and I agree with you, it is terrible – just a sniff out of the bottle tells you enough about how bad it is, reminds me of a perfume my grandma used back in the soviet times.

    However, recently I have joined a new company and they are driven to make cocktail more popular. While looking through the back shelf of the bar, which reminds me of a liqueur library I noticed a very simple bottle that had a purple liquid in it, I picked it up and was right thinking that it was Creme de Violette but I never heard of this liqueur brand before – Edmond Briottet. From my past experience with violette, I didn’t think it could ever be any good, no matter who makes it. But I was pleasantly surprised because the nose was very subtle, very delicate and soft. It smelled very natural of flowers with a hint of citrus and vanilla. When I tried it, it impressed me even more as the taste was just so much better then Monin, it didn’t give off any acidic flavours, it was soft on the tongue, with a lot of body and the taste was good enough to sip on it’s own. I haven’t made a cocktail with it yet but feel as though due to its delicate nature it would blend in a bit too well and perhaps be one of the last, lingering notes in the mouth.

    If you haven’t tried this brand of liqueurs, I highly suggest it.

    Thanks

    Egor

  22. Egor:
    Briottet is a fabulous range of liqueurs. Unfortunately we don’t have access to their version of violette here in Washington. I have thoroughly enjoyed everything of theirs that I do have access to though.

  23. [...] Note 2: Since I started this article dissing the Attention, I should note that the original formula has evolved into something very much like the Atty. The modern Attention has a 4:1  proportion of gin to vermouth and a dash of orange bitters, along the lines of Jamie Boudreau’s recipe at SpiritsAndCocktails. [...]

  24. [...] Boudreau is much cooler than I am, and he wrote these excellent posts on the topic of creme de violette. In the second post he gives the recipe for a drink called [...]

  25. Dear Sirs and Mesdames…thank you, thank you! By the time I made it through this post I was nearly in tears. All this romantic talk and the beautiful pic really waxed nostalgic. I am no mixologist, just a happy consumer but I have been searching for Creme de Violette for more than 20 yrs! Haven’t seen it (or tasted…..) since I left NYC. What with the internet I have been gaining momentum on finding some here in Melbourne, Florida. A brand I didn’t see listed is Benoit-Serres, one which my research led me to. Any comment on this particular Creme de Violette. I read somewhere that it is the only true CdV based on some lost & reclaimed distiller’s recipe. But, I know nothing of such things and defer to your amassed knowledge on the subject. Thanks…
    Julie

  26. I’m seeing something called Tempus Fugit at K&L Wines; wonder if you’ll get around to comparing it to the Hermes (which they do, in their marketing copy). Also interested in your take on Creme Yvette & where it fits into the taxonomy of violet liqueurs.

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