Crème de Violette

I got inspired to make crème de violette by a friend who aspires to try one classic cocktail per week. While sitting on the bank of a ditch after foraging together, she told me about the Aviation, a cocktail that combines gin, maraschino liqueur, and lemon with crème de violette. At once, I knew that crème de violette would be my big violet recipe for season, and went home and started infusing violet petals in vodka.

Here's the thing, though. I had no clue what crème de violette was. In my head, I thought, "yum, I like cream and I like violets." It wasn't until a few days later that I did my research and discovered that the crème of crème de violet comes not from cream, but from a high sugar content which lends a velvety texture to the finished liqueur. So, crème de violette is basically an alcoholic syrup.

Aside from separating the violet petals from the calyx (do not skip this step, or your final product will taste like cooked vegetables), this recipe is very simple and straightforward. I used the highly fragrant Viola odorata, which many consider to be a yard pest. I tested this recipe twice, and both batches were fantastic. The crème de violette turns out faintly purple and with an almost grape-candy flavor which is fragrant but, to my surprise, not perfume-y. This recipe is a keeper, and I will no longer bother trying to eek out tedious candied violets or a jelly that I'll never eat.

So far, I've just been sharing small sips of straight crème de violette with friends. It's also nice with soda water. Soon, I'll get brave and make an Aviation.

I will mention that the color of the crème de violette seems to be fading, even though it is being kept in a cool dark place. If anyone has advice of a way to preserve the color without altering the delicate flavor, I'd love to hear it. Cheers!

Crème de Violette

1/2 c. violet petals (calyx and all green parts removed)
1 c. vodka
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1. Place 1/4 c. of the violet petals and the vodka in a pint jar, and lid it tightly. Shake the jar to make certain that all of the petals are soaking in the alcohol.

2. In another pint jar, layer the remaining violet petals with the sugar, and cover it with a lid. Do not be tempted to use anything but white sugar here, or you'll lose the flavor of the violets.

3. Leave both the vodka and the sugar to infuse with violet for at least 3 day, or up to a week.

4. Empty the violets and sugar into a small saucepan (are you surprised at how fragrant that violet sugar is?), add the water, and stir them so that all the sugar is moistened. Bring the heat up to medium low, and let the violet syrup bubble for 2-3 minutes. Set it aside overnight so that the violets can further infuse.

5. Bring the violet syrup back up to medium-low heat, and once again let it bubble gently for 2-3 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat, and let it cool to room temperature.

6. Strain the violet petals out of both the vodka and the syrup, and discard the spent petals.

7. Combine the infused vodka and syrup, then add the lemon juice. You will need to stir or shake the crème de violette liqueur, otherwise, the vodka and syrup stay in separate layers.

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