To the delight of classy lushes everywhere, old-fashioned liqueurs are experiencing a comeback. Case in point: Crème de Violette. I've been a fan of floral liqueurs for some time; I make my own elderflower liqueur and lavendercello every summer; I've had plans to make my own Crème de Violette, but for the relative scarcity of good, fragrant violets around these parts. Luckily, after a decades-long absence, Crème de Violette is back on the market.
Rothman & Winter's Crème de Violette (find it online) is created from a careful maceration of Austrian Queen Charlotte and March Violets steeped in Weinbrand ("The Great Brandy from the Rhine"), with cane sugar added for sweetness.
The sweetly floral aroma of Crème de Violette is an obvious pairing to the boreal forest notes of good gin. This cocktail is based on Hugo Ensslin's 1916 Aviation recipe, merely omitting the Maraschino. An early recipe for the drink appears in David Embury's 1948 classic, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.
Crème Yvette, which pairs violets with vanilla, was the original choice for this drink, but when Crème Yvette disappeared about a hundred years ago, Crème de Violette stepped in as a replacement. Now both are available, and either one makes a splendid cocktail to pair with delicate blueberry-lemon blintzes, say. Just forget modern Blue Moon recipes that call for insipid blue curaçao—vintage violet-based liqueurs are the only way to go.