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:
5. MONIN VIOLETTE
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).
4. ROTHMAN & WINTER’S CRÈME DE VIOLETTE
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.
3. ELIE ARNAUD DENOIX CRÈME DE VIOLETTE
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