It’s a Violette Heaven

Lately I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to pull down my pants, point at my “male area” and proclaim loudly, “Whose is bigger?!? Whose is bigger!?!?!”

What am I going on about this time, you ask? Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive, from different sources, not one, not two, but five different violettes. As any of you who have tried to procure this elusive spirit in the last couple of years knows, it is not an easy product to come by (in North America anyway). Essential in such cocktails as the Aviation (the original recipe), violette was unavailable to anyone in the US until Haus Alpenz came along a year or so ago and started importing it. And now I have five! FIVE!!!! Mu wah ha ha!!!!

Since everyone isn’t able to come down to Vessel and have cocktails made with the different brands of crème de violette, I’ve decided to share (virtually anyway) my collection, and offer tasting notes as well as the odd recipe.

So here they are, the violettes (standing shoulder to shoulder in a kick line), in reverse order of rank, as determined by yours truly:



While this spirit has an excellent deep violet hue, and a powerful flowery (if a bit soapy) nose, it unfortunately falls really short in the taste department. Pretty much all I get is sugar and a touch of alcohol and nothing else. If I were to guess, I’d say that Monin took their already produced syrup, added a bit of alcohol and called it a day. Unfortunately, this takes an already weak tasting syrup and dilutes the flavor with neutral grain spirit. It might have been a touch better if they would’ve concentrated the syrup before adding the spirit in order to preserve at least some of the flowery characteristics that one looks for in a violette.

Conclusion: Do not waste your money; the syrup is better than the liqueur (and cheaper).



This, thanks to Eric Seed, is the only violette that is currently available in the United States. It has a deep lavender color with a nice, light violette palate. What it does not have however, (especially when compared to the other four violettes), is a nice nose. It reminds me of rotting petals, and is slightly offensive. However, keep in mind that this perception is based on consuming the spirit straight, a practice that I would never normally do. When mixed in an Aviation, the musty notes are held in check, and all of the positives of this spirit start to show through. While this is rated number four of five, keep in mind that all of the products tasted were pretty close (with the Monin being the exception) and if it wasn’t for the nose, I would’ve rated this much higher (perhaps I received an off bottle?)

Conclusion: A good cocktail violette, but I might not use it in a pousse-café.



Number three on my list today, is Denoix’s crème de violette. With a nice deep purple (cue music) hue and an air of dusty, candied flowers this is an elegant showing. While this violette was lighter than the others, it was also very smooth and not too sugary. At this point in the tasting it was getting increasingly difficult to decide which crème was better. This violette also fared well when being used in cocktails.

Conclusion: If you see it, and you can afford it, buy it.


Stay tuned for my next post which will give you my top two picks and a recipe which calls for the violette. (Be warned that it may take a couple of days as I am on the road, even as I type this.)

As all of this crème de violette talk may get you thirsting for a cocktail, why don’t you try a:

1 ½ oz gin
½ oz crème de violette
1 oz lemon juice
½ tsp sugar
shake over ice and strain into a Collins (or Fizz if you have it) glass
top with soda
garnish with a flower

Pictures by:
Jamie Boudreau


~ by Jamie Boudreau on February 6, 2008.

33 Responses to “It’s a Violette Heaven”

  1. >>my next post which will give you my top two pick<<

    Wait, are you gonna say you like the Hermes? Hmmm…

  2. why as a resterrant am I unable to get Rothman & Winter Creme de violette ? I can not find it on the washington state liquor website . errr…….

  3. Maybe the problem with the offensive smell from the Rothman & Winter’s is that you’re storing it in your “male area”?

  4. Angela:
    You can find many things that are not on the WSLB web site at store 101. They always get very small orders of special products that are usually sold out in a week, so if you’re looking for rare things, you have to visit often.

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  6. Green with envy as usual. Damned control states!

  7. […] 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. […]

  8. […] To be fair, creme de violette is not available everywhere. Even famous bartenders brag about having five varieties. […]

  9. I had a chance to try the Rothman and Winter this past weekend. We agreed it had a “soapy” nose, which carried over to the Yale cocktail. I have seen the G. MICLO at Sam’s but have yet to try it.

  10. […] of liquor in this state? Surely if this is even an underground possibility, we can finally get some creme de violette down here right? I’m not holding my breath, but you can be sure I’m checking every […]

  11. I found the ROTHMAN & WINTER’S CRÈME DE VIOLETTE on and made 4 different drinks at a weekend party. HUGE HIT! I’d highly recommend it.

  12. Creme de Violette Rothman& Winter’s available at the Winnfield liquor store, 3rd Ave&37th Street, Manhattan. Just ask the assistant to get the ladder and take it down for you as they store high in the sky(probably because it’s used in the Aviation cocktail)!! 28.99 plus tax, not very expensive. Bought a bottle last Fri and took it with me to Romania. After all, it has to prove it’s good for…aviation!

  13. Magically a single bottle of Rothman & Winter showed up at my local branch of BevMo! on Santa Monica Blvd/La Brea in Los Angeles. Of course, I snapped it up without even thinking. There wasn’t even a tag on the shelf. I’m still not sure what I paid for it. ($24.99) I have no idea how it got there; but I have every idea how it got home with me and 10 minutes later into a Blue Moon. I’ve been stuck with Parfait Amour from Marie Brizard as an inappropriate stand in–ersatz, to say the least.

    The Rothman is the only I’ve ever had, so I have no basis of comparison. But it is very subtle, and the violette flavor is definitely present and accounted for. The bouquet (pun intended) is, as others have noted, a little off: like that first whiff from an aspirin bottle.

  14. For those of you in the Los Angeles area, my closest BevMo (in Burbank CA) didn’t have it, but I found it yesterday at Wally’s Wine (near the intersection of the 405 and the 10).

  15. How do the violet syrups fare against the creme de violette? I use it for splashing a couple of drops into champagne. The bottle just finished was purchased in southern France. The manufacturer is Le Temps des Mets. Will any distributor ship it from France or is there a reasonable substitute here?

    • I too have had Creme de violette in champagne. sublime… i brought a bottle home and used it up thinking i could get more in the US. not so…dont want to settle for “almost good” i need the “really good” isnt there an importer somewhere? anybody?

  16. Cindy: I haven’t tried many violette syrups, but of the few that I have tried, Giffard has been my favorite. You ask if a distributor will ship from France, but I do not live in France and I don’t know where you live so I am unable to answer that question. If you live in the US though, there are a number of alcoholic options for you to choose from, so I wouldn’t bother with a non-alc violette.

  17. Is there any way to buy any of these in Toronto? I’ve just moved here from Australia where it is easy to get and I can’t find an answer other than asking the LCBO to import and entire case.

    • Clare! I’m in Toronto too! This answer is a bit late, but I’d love to split a case with you. That’s probably the only way to get it in these parts.

    • Clare! I’m in Toronto too! This answer is a bit late, but I’d love to split a case with you. That’s probably the only way to get it in these parts.

  18. can i find these in fl.

  19. Does anyone know where to get any of these liqueurs in London, England?!

  20. anywhere near Philly. Go to Barclay Prime. Have an Aviation with Barry Johnson the Beverage Manager. I’m hooked!
    Denise c. / Atlanta

  21. I bought a bottle of Rothman & Winter as a birthday gift for myself this summer. I, unlike others, did not find the “nose” at all soapy. Indeed, I found it pleasantly fragrant with a lovely violet presence when added to drinks. It’s been a big hit. I had to order it from N.Y. at the time, but it is now availble at our Bev Mo here in Oakland, CA.

  22. I am so happy creme de violette is making a comback! Usually I drink kir royales, but now a violette royale is in order. bravo!

  23. What do you think of using a hibiscus flower as a garnish. Would the flavors be off? colors? I got some in syrup at Williams and Sonoma and some dried at Trader Jo. It could be really pretty and interesting and it also could be really awful.

  24. Pamela:
    you never truly know until you try….

  25. Rothman & Winter is available all the time in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area at The Party Source in Bellevue, KY, for $19.99 plus tax. Kentucky = affordable spirits. Reminds me of C. Howard’s old fashioned violet candies and scented gum.

  26. Unfortunately these are none of the brands I tasted in France. I’ve since learned that Toulouse has an annual Violette Festival. I had Violette in Annecy. The bottle was very small and cobalt glass. A few drops transforms Champagne and sends your head back to face the sky. Yeah, it’s that good. Let’s keep looking

  27. […] 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 […]

  28. I’m an importer and distributor of the G. Miclo Violette and I would love to get in contact with anyone who would be interested in carrying it.

  29. where are numbers 2 and 1?
    ever have Benoit Serres ‘Liqueur a la Violette’ Violet Liqueur?

  30. Do you know any suppliers I can contact, maybe in Singapore or Malaysia, for Rothman and Winter’s Creme de Violette? I’m from Malaysia and Monin is very common here, but like you said, it’s basically sugar syrup.

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