This Sparkling Violet Champagne Cocktail makes a beautiful addition to your brunch or shower. Its both pretty and pretty tasting, with velvety sweet and lightly floral creme de violette, but a splash of citrus gin balances out that sweetness. Bubbles from cava or champagne round it out and send it over the top!
What IS Creme de Violette?
Despite what you may think, creme de violette is not a creamy liqueur. It is, however, made from violets. It smells lovely, and is richly purple hued. It can be a difficult liqueur to use, though, because of that potent combo of sweetness and florality.
Wayne Curtis, in an article for The Atlantic called “Cocktails of the Past” calls it “an ethereal lavender-hued liqueur, with the fleeting, elusive taste and aroma of spring violets, from which it’s made.” Traditionally, it was an ingredient in a classic Aviation cocktail. Curtis points out that the Aviation, “which first cropped up around 1916, at the dawn of the age of flight” had a touch of Creme de Violette in it. This subtle addition would give it a blue tinge, which was basically why it was called an Aviation.
Fear Not the Blue Cocktail, or At Least This One
Jen Carlson, writing for Gothamist in “The Aviation, the Only Blue Cocktail You Should Ever Consider” gives it an even earlier birthday, “it actually dates back to at least 1911. It was created by Hugo Ensslin, head bartender at the Hotel Wallick on Broadway and 43rd Street, and first turned up in print in 1916’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks.” I just love learning about the history of drinks. It makes me feel like I’m imbibing a part of history when I drink them!
Further, Carlson references Doug Ford, writing over at Cold Glass, who elaborates, “The bad luck part came along in 1930, when the widely referenced SAVOY COCKTAIL BOOK dropped the crème de violette from the drink’s recipe.” He further adds that , “Crème de violette, its use increasingly arcane, finally disappeared from the United States in the 1960s.”
The Mad Men era was all about the martini. A lot changed in the world of cocktails in the convenience food era. But luckily, the only thing that stays the same is that everything changes…
Pour it Again
The recent rebirth of cocktail culture and the fascination with classic and pre-prohibition cocktails, though, has caused a resurgence of interest in the Aviation. Thus, it is now possible to find a commercially available Creme de Violette on the American market again.
I’m fascinated by the history of cocktails in general and this one in particular.
I’ve enjoyed the Aviation in a number of iterations, and I’ll post one of my favorite Aviation twists, soon. Are you interested in a class version as well? Let me know in the comments?
Today, though, I wanted to share this little champagne cocktail I’ve been playing with. While I really like Creme de Violette in cocktails it IS a challenging little liqueur to pair. It’s both sweet and decidedly floral.
It really needs to be balanced out.
Gin solves a lot of cocktail dilemmas doesn’t it ;)?
Here I used a gin my husband and I have been saving since our last trip to Edinburgh. Only think of whisky when you think of Scotland? Me too, at least until I went there. They have a robust gin industry in Edinburgh and the surrounds. It is, after all, the home of Hendricks.
And I. Love. Hendricks.
This was a classic Seville dry gin that I brought home from a bottle your own gin place. That’s right. BOTTLE YOUR OWN GIN.
It’s basically heaven.
My husband and I are returning to the UK again this winter to visit family and I will be visiting Demijohn’s again. So stay tuned for more fun gin posts!
But back to this cocktail.
You don’t have to visit Edinburgh and bottle your own gin to make this. You can use any citrus gin, or vodka, that you find.
And I used a nice, pretty dry and under $15 cava for the bubbly.
Don’t go upscale for bubbles your blending. Find something dry. I prefer cava to prosecco here because prosecco can get a bit sweet on its own and, well, there’s that Creme de Violette to balance out.
I hope you enjoy this one.
Though honestly, it probably won’t make a frequent appearance at our house, because I see it as a special occasion cocktail. I can think of many brunches in which it would be fun. Birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers – these too all seem like good candidates for a purple champagne cocktail.
Let me know what you think?
And if you’re interested, maybe you want to check out some of my other cocktails, like this Blackberry Sage and Bourbon Cocktail!
Sparkling Violet Creme De Violette Champagne Cocktail
- 2 Ounces Citrus Gin or Vodka
- 3/4 Ounce Creme de Violette
- 4 Ounces Cava or other Sparkling Wine, chilled
- 1 Twist Lemon Juice
In a chilled champagne glass, add Creme de Violette and gin.
Top with cava.
May garnish with berries or a twist of lemon peel.