Home made creme de violette – part one

I have been resisting buying a bottle of creme de violette for quite a while. As I noted in my write-up of arsenic and old lace, I didn’t want to splash out on a bottle of liqueur that I might not like.

The answer? Make a close approximation, on the cheap, in my own kitchen.

There is little on the internet about making creme de violette in the home, so I decided to make it up. There seems to be nobody selling freeze-dried violet petals in the UK (not that Google knows about anyway), so I had to improvise. The traditional ingredients of a liqueur are alcohol, sugar and your flavouring of choice; these latter two can be combined using either crystallised violet petals (typically used for cake and confectionary decoration) or parma violets. The success of either will rely heavily on how much sugar there is to flavour, but who will know until I try?

So, I ordered both from ebay, with a view of chucking them straight into vodka to make my very own, quick-and-dirty, creme de violette.

Crystallised Violets

Crystallised Violets

The first to arrive was the crystallised violet petals; armed with these and a 20cl bottle of vodka, I started making things up. I bought 100g of the crystallised petals, but thought I had better take it easy – better too little than too much, you can always add more. I added 25g of the crystallised violets to the vodka and shook.

Within seconds, I had something that looked like meths (methylated spirits). Within 30 minutes, all of the sugar had dissolved and there were naked petals floating around in an intensely purple liquid. I thought the sugar would have taken up much of the flavour, so I poured the mix through a coffee filter and sampled.

What can I say? I am glad I stopped at 25g. The flavour is distinctly violet and while sweet, isn’t as cloying as I thought it might be. Given that I haven’t watered this down, this is pretty much a 40% ABV liqueur – more like sweet violet vodka. This is going to add a punch to cocktails. I have never tried proper creme de violette neat, so I have no idea how this compares.

So, in less than an hour (including popping out to the shops for the vodka) I had some creme de violette; it was obviously time to mix up a few drinks and kick back for the evening.

First up was the Blue Moon

Blue Moon

2 ounces gin
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz crème de violette

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake (I stirred) and strain into a cocktail glass.

This is an incredible dark-blue colour – the sort of colour the sky goes during the early stages of pre-dawn when the night has only just begun to lighten. The lemon and violet balance very well and, while floral, the drink has a deep and sincere bite. Very drinkable.

Second was the…

Belmont

Ingredients:
1 3/4 oz Gin
1/2 oz St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz Creme de Violette
Soda (fill glass)

The method was lacking from this one, but it looked like a “chuck it all in a glass over ice” type of drink.

This maintained the rich blue colour but it was very washed out; an intriguing looking drink at least. In hindsight I would have added less soda and more gin, but nevertheless it was a clear, refreshing drink that had the barest hint of alcohol. The elderflower and violet were gentle, delicate accents to the soda water. Pleasing, but don’t waste your best gin on it.

I am not sure about the label “belmont”. There seems to be many sources that list the belmont as gin, raspberry syrup and cream (sounds interesting too). Others use creme de yvette rather than creme de violette.

Third was the…

Liberation

1 1/2 oz Gin
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon juice
2 dash Crème de Violette
Twist of lemon peel to garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass.

This was a delightful sea-blue colour with hints of green about it. It was a rather sweet and intense drink and may not appeal to many, but it has a rather surprising after-bite that leaves me wanting more. Not one for the seeker of delicate drinks.

Lastly the…

Aviatrix

2 oz gin
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 teaspoon crème de violette
2 dashes orange bitters
lemon twist as garnish

Stir over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnish.

Now this hit the spot. A beautiful pale sea-green, the addition of Lillet Blanc and orange bitters really made this drink come alive. Delicate and complex with a cracking mix of citrus and floral with neither dominating. It is basically a vermouth-heavy martini with a splash of violet.

So, there we have it. For relatively little investment, I had an evening on the creme de violette cocktails. When the homemade hooch runs dry, I might even invest in a production bottle.

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5 thoughts on “Home made creme de violette – part one

  • August 3, 2011 at 12:52 am
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    This is like something halfway between creme de violette and violet bitters.. Awesome.

    If you overdo the violet even more to get more color and taste, like cocktail bitters, you might even be able to get the ‘Aviation’ hue in a drink without adding more than a dash or two! That would be even better.

    Zis, mein freund, is ze zound of proghrezz! /tf2

    I’m sick of sweet liqueurs. Bring on the bitters instead. It’s easier to adjust the proportions of the drink with liquor, sour, sweet (syrup) and bitters/flower water/insert-taste-modifier-here than with these incessant liqueurs. Some of them are vile and artificial tasting as well. (I’m looking at you creme de cacao)

    Reply
    • August 3, 2011 at 8:36 am
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      You will probably need to source fresh (or maybe freeze-dried – don’t know how well that will work) flowers or petals for this. The crystallised petals come with a chunk of sugar attached and I guess you would want to avoid too much of that in a bitters.

      Reply
  • December 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm
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    Hi Doug,
    I know this is an old post but I love liqueurs and I have to say I can enjoy Home made creme de violette (made with home grown violets or if I am cheating I make mine with chocolate violets with and without the choc in it, this have a nice balance of flavour to the violet and the chocolate version is superb as a ‘dreamy delicate drink)over frapped ice! it is quite a treat! I fell across your blog quite by accident, but as a gin+ connoisseur myself I do intend to delve deeper into its content, I am at this moment in the planning of a Parisian New Year party hence the interest in crème de Violet. Have a very Happy New Year.

    Reply
  • April 11, 2014 at 10:26 pm
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    OK, so I have a bottle of Violette Sirop that a friendly bartender in Paris gave me for my wife’s Kir Violette. So I have the sugar and the violette, what proportion of it and vodka or neutral grain spirit do I need to approximate a creme do violette. I live in Newfoundland, so the only way I’m going to get if is if I make it myself…

    Reply
    • December 5, 2014 at 10:57 pm
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      I can only recommend experimenting in small quantities. Creme de Violette usually comes in at around 18-20% ABV, so some simple maths will tell you quantities to mix in to get the right strength, then it’s just adjusting sugar and cordial to taste.

      Reply

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