Crème Yvette. Crème de Violette. Two very different liqueurs that are often used as if they're interchangeable. Today, we will take an in-depth look at both.
Crème de Violette
The origins of a liqueur made of violet petals goes back to Europe in the early 19th century. Like many liqueurs that enjoyed popularity before Prohibition but virtually disappeared by the end of the Noble Experiment, Crème de Violette sat on the verge of extinction for decades. Then, in 2007, it was revitalized in its present incarnation by Rothman & Winter, made in Austria from Queen Charlotte and March violet petals gathered from Alpine hillsides.
A gorgeous violet blue-purple not unlike Elizabeth Taylor's eyes. (Hey, that sounds like a good name for a drink!)
A distinctive fragrance of violet, yet not overly floral, with the hint of purple grapes without being overly fruity.
A subtle taste of violets with a very smooth finish mid-palate. 20% alcohol. Crème de Violette is an essential ingredient in the classic cocktails "Aviation" (see below) and "Blue Moon".
First created in 1890, it was a staple of creative cocktail bars for over half a century before falling out of favor and being discontinued in the late 1960s. Then, forty years later, it was reintroduced by one of my heroes, Robert Cooper (RIP), the creator of St. Germain. Today, it's made in France from parma violet petals, along with red raspberries, wild strawberries, blackberries, cassis, orange peel, honey, and vanilla.
A rich red, the color of rubies.
A fresh, harmonious blend of violet and wild strawberries, with a hint of vanilla. More syrupy than Crème de Violette, the fragrance is neither overly fruity nor overly floral.
A completely different taste from Crème de Violette, it has a longer finish on the back of the palate, with flavors of violet and wild strawberry (and other berries), with the savory hint of blackcurrant. At 55.5 proof (27.75% alcohol), the presence of alcohol in taste is more pronounced than in Crème de violette.
Crème de Violette
"Aviation" (ca. 1916)
Check out this drink in RETRO COCKTAILS: "AVIATION"
My own creation: "Mad Manhattan"
(which uses Crème Yvette)