Elsewhere in the Liquiverse…

Creme Yvette Aviation at Dram in Williamsburg.

“Her early leaf’s a flower.”–Robert Frost

  • Creme Yvette sold out within its first 48 hours on the shelves at Astor Wine & Spirits. The historic berry and botanical liqueur is a lush modifier, as I recently experienced with an exquisite Aviation at new cocktail den Dram in Williamsburg — I’m not kidding when I say hints of blackberry, cassis, framboise, violet petals and orange peel made the gin sing on mountain high. Released as a limited early launch, the first full shipment will be coming from France at an as-yet-announced later date. If you are lucky enough to have tried it, please leave comments!
  • In addition to Dram, recent bar openings include Midtown retreats Empire Room, Hospitality Holding’s swanky cocktail lounge on the ground level of the Empire State Building, and La Biblioteca, a swanky tequila library at Zengo–although I’ve heard the latter is still waiting for their swanky liquor license.
  • It’s currently Tartan Week in NYC, which means there are kilted men on the loose and drams of single malt whisky everywhere you turn–in other words, this is kind of the best week ever. Be sure to check out the Tartan Day Parade, this Saturday April 10. I’ll have some recaps for you on this, trust…
  • Amateurs such as myself have a reason to break out the jiggers and shakers beyond entertaining ourselves by entering Louis 649’s “Anyone Can Be a Mixologist” contest. Running now through April 18, non-working bartenders are invited to submit recipes using sponsored base ingredients. The live throwdown between 10 semi-finalists is April 21, and the winner gets their drink on the spring cocktail menu, a subscription to Imbibe and a $100 bar tab at Louis — game on! Click here for the rules, newbie.
  • Oh, and you probably heard this already, but Julie Reiner and her partners at Clover Club have purchased the Tailor space and are planning something somewhat tropical.
  • Meanwhile, Allen & Delancey, at one point featuring a cocktail menu by Alex Day, quietly bit the dust.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, April 4, 2010

Breaking: Creme Yvette on Shelves in NYC!

Creme Yvette is now on sale at Astor Wines & Spirits for $41.99!

She’s finally here! Although she’s more of a reincarnate than a newborn, Creme Yvette, the highly anticipated liqueur from the makers of St-Germain elderflower liqueur, is now on sale at Astor Wines & Spirits for $41.99. I’m still finding out which other liquor shops are stocking it–Park Avenue Liquor expects to have it soon and there is already a customer waiting list! Featuring notes of berries, spices, honey, vanilla, and a hint of violet petals, Creme Yvette disappeared in 1969, but Robert Cooper’s family has the rights to the recipe and has been fine-tuning it for relaunch.

Over the past two years, Creme de Violette has been a hit with mixologists seeking the missing link to a proper Aviation. Classic cocktails that include Yvette are the Blue Moon (2 oz. gin, 3/4 oz. lemon, 1/2 oz. Creme Yvette) and the Union Jack (1 1/2 oz. gin, 1/2 oz. Creme Yvette).

I’m excited to see the reddish-purple Yvette make a splash on NYC cocktail menus. Have an idea for a cocktail recipe featuring Creme Yvette? Comment below, and I’ll experiment with some of them–the best recipe will win something cool, I promise!

*Correction: I originally said the original recipe for the Aviation, as found in Hugo Ensslin’s 1917 book, “Recipes for Mixed Drinks,” included Creme Yvette–it did not, it calls for Creme de Violette–my apologies.

Dizzy Recap: The Six Dizziest Moments of 2009

Junior Merino, The Liquid Chef.

So really, this recap only reflects the past seven months of 2009 since I started this blog in May, but so much radness went down that I thought the time period deserved some pause–including one event I haven’t even recapped until now because life and too many cocktails got in the way (it happens to the best of us).

  • Junior Merino’s Liquid Lab (November): Holy hole in a lotus root, if you have been to Junior’s lab you have truly tasted the rainbow.  Primarily for bartenders, this free, day-long experience at Junior’s offices in the Bronx (sorry, no photos allowed) is a mix of mad cocktail science and blind tastings. On the day I attended, we tasted five different kinds of vodka, cachaca, rum, pisco, tequila, and mezcal, and we tasted everything twice. Tasting spirits twice (after lots of water and spitting) allowed my palate and brain to register more intense flavors. We then mixed cocktails using each type of spirit and pulled ingredients from Junior’s seemingly endless supply of liquor, liqueurs, juices, syrups, bitters, fresh produce and herbs, garnishes, spices, salts–really anything you could imagine, it was there. Each cocktail we made included at least one sponsored ingredient–Combier Orange Liqueur, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, and Castries Peanut Rum. Being an amateur mixologist, this was a real treat for me, as was tasting the more experienced bartender’s concoctions. My best drink (in my opinion) included: muddled pepquinos (tiny melons) and starfruit, habanero-infused Siembra Azul Tequila, Combier, The Liquid Chef Agave Nectar, lemon juice, and garnished with rock chives, starfruit, and The Liquid Chef Cactus & Lemongrass Salt on the rim. Some bartenders toyed with the liquid nitrogen, dry ice, and liquid smoke for more molecular experiments. A highlight for me was tasting the not-yet-released Creme Yvette, which offers a brilliant mix of berry and vanilla flavors. Another major highlight was the amazing lunch spread provided by Junior’s wife, chef Heidi. If you are in the NYC area and are a working bartender, this is an opportunity not to be missed.
  • World Cocktail Day (May): The day I got this blog up and running, and what a day it was! More than 20 of the country’s top mixologists threw down at Pranna in celebration of the birthday of the cocktail.
  • The Manhattan Cocktail Classic, Day 1 & Day 2 (October): Two days of expert sessions and tastings, followed by a blowout gala. This is one weekend that will probably be remembered as the event of the year for NYC cocktailians.
  • WhiskyFest New York (November): Where I learned that there is no such thing as too much whisk(e)y. Why can’t every day be WhiskyFest?
  • 2nd Annual D.C. Repeal Day Ball (December): No better reason to put on a black-tie outfit than to celebrate the anniversary of Prohibition’s end–and no better place to celebrate than the D.C. cocktail hub.
  • The Dizzy Fizz Holiday Puncheon (December): C’mon, you know I had to put the puncheon on here! If you were there, you know; if you weren’t, I’m sorry but you missed a damn fine time.

*Glaring omission: No, I was not at Tales of the Cocktail. Hopefully next year!

Ingredient of the Day: Creme de Violette

 

This sun-kissed start to Memorial Day weekend has my mind buzzing with visions of a blossoming summer garden–I can’t wait to get herbs, tomatoes, and flowers a-sproutin’. Memorial Day, originally called ‘Decoration Day,’ was first observed May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. So when thinking of a cocktail to observe (or celebrate) the long weekend, a natural choice is the Aviation, which delicately blends gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur (which has nothing to do with those syrupy cherries), and Creme de Violette.

 

Over the past two years, Creme de Violette has come back into production after being unavailable for decades. Rothman & Winter’s version is most likely to be available here in NYC–try specialty liquor stores like Astor Wines and Spirits. It’s a floral, herbaceous deep purple liqueur made from (you guessed it) violet petals. On its own it will probably hit you as too perfume-y, but a spoonful in the right cocktail adds a certain joie de vivre. Since my roommate, Gardner, is the brand ambassador for Suntory Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky, he was fortunate to receive a bottle of the extremely-hard-to-find Hermes Violet by Suntory. As you can tell by the photo, we still have yet to open our bottle (still waiting for the right occasion), but we have cracked the Rothman & Winter violette, and it’s as elegant as a spring evening.

 

Creme de Violette is a close cousin to Creme Yvette, a liqueur that disappeared in the 1960s made from violet petals, berries, vanilla, and other spices. It’s been completely obscure, although–that appears to be changing! In researching this post, I was thrilled to discover that none other than Robert Cooper, who created St-Germain elderflower liqueur, is in the process of launching a Creme Yvette. Apparently it was on view at the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America conference in Orlando last month. I wonder if it will be available at the New York Bar Show in June? Until then, here are three cocktails using Creme de Violette to get you through the three-day weekend:

 

 

Rare Japanese import Hermes Violet.

Rare Japanese import Hermes Violet.

Aviation adapted by Robert Hess

 

2 oz. gin (try Plymouth)

1/2 oz. lemon juice

2 tsp. maraschino liqueur (try Luxardo)

1 tsp. Creme de Violette

 

Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Drizzle the Creme de Violette into the glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

 

 

Atty Cocktail from the Savoy Cocktail Book, adapted by Erik Ellestad

 

3/4 oz. dry vermouth (try Noilly Prat)

1 1/2 oz. gin (try Beefeater)

1 tsp. Creme de Violette

1 tsp. absinthe (try La Fee)

 

Add ingredients to a mixing glass filled with cracked ice. Stir well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Squeeze a lemon twist on top and drop it into the drink.

 

 

Violette Royale

 

4 oz. Champagne

1/2 oz. Creme de Violette

 

This one should be self-explanatory. Cheers!