Water Lily + Crème de Violette.
While relatively new I think it’s fair to call the Water Lily a classic cocktail. Almost all agree that the drink was created in 2007 by Richie Boccato at Little Branch – one of Sasha Petraske’s New York bar’s (always respect the creator of a cocktail with the credit they deserve). The Water Lily is beautiful both visually and in its quadrilateral equal parts simplicity. It also gives you something else to make with that Crème de Violette that you bought to make Aviations with. Briefly returning to the latter I’d like to add that I’ve always had an issue with the original version of the Aviation in that it seemed that if I added a little violette it came out an unattractive grey colour, yet if I added enough to give it the sky blue colour the name alludes to the flavour balance of this drink was dominated by the violette at the expense of the gin and maraschino and hence have continued to make the Aviation the “wrong” way – as I was before the rediscovery of the original recipe anyway. I’ve come to realise that some Crème de Violettes are more violently violet than other variants, with my Marie Brizard being very much at the paler end of the spectrum. On top of this Crème de Violette is not the easiest liqueur to find. Luckily I was able to borrow one of the more intensely coloured variants which might just be a solution for The Aviation Dilemma. The Bitter Truth – German bitters makers of repute – have a growing selection of liqueurs in their repertoire including a particularly intense Crème de Violette. Now given the limited uses for and relative scarcity of CdV opportunities for comparison are limited. Hence the opportunity to compare a couple should not be squandered. Simply put Marie Brizard is quite a pale shade of violet yet has a very punchy violet flavour while The Bitter Truth version is intense in colour with a “bluer” hue yet somewhat milder in flavour. Additionally, thanks to strict German labelling laws, we know that The Bitter Truth version has added colouring which may go some way to explaining the difference. I’d also like to add that in reality both of these drinks looked noticeably bluer than they appear in the picture but as a matter of principle I don’t mess with the colour balance in my pictures. Anyway, more than enough about Aviations and Violets let’s get:
Back to the Lily.
Despite sharing a few ingredients with the (original) Aviation the Water Lily is quite different, being sweeter and unashamedly more violet forward. Yet it’s an easy drink to make and just as easy to drink. It exudes a certain sophistication and elegant femininity especially when paired with a vintage glass and tasteful garnish. To get the best colour be sure to use a clear orange liqueur such as Cointreau or a triple sec – particularly so if you are using a paler crème de violette.
0.75oz / 22ml Dry London gin.
0.75oz / 22ml Crème de Violette (see text).
0.75oz / 22ml fresh lemon juice.
0.75oz / 22ml clear orange liqueur (see text).
Shake* with ice and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Rub rim and garnish with a swathe of orange peel.
Toast Richie Boccato creator of the Water Lily.
*Some recipes say to stir rather than shake and I consider this a reasonable alternative given the relatively small portion of lemon juice. The choice is yours.
By Quiddity 11th March 2022 - 12:50 pm
I wish to claim my spotter’s badge for noticing that this is essentially a Corpse Reviver #2 with the Lillet swapped out for Creme de Violette and the absinthe rinse omitted.
It turns out there are exactly two CdVs available here in Sweden: one by Joseph Cartron and one by Giffard. I don’t suppose you have opinions about either?
Mind you, there’s other Bitter Truth and Marie Brizard products available, so perhaps I just have to nag the Systembolag in the right way.
By Andy 11th March 2022 - 4:51 pm
Granted! I’m thinking of taking a chance on the Cartron for use in Aviations. It looks very dark and it’s about half the price of Bitter Truth but of course the flavour is a gamble. I can only get it online so I’ll have to wait for my next order. If I do get some I’ll post my opinion of it here. Or if you do please share your thoughts.
By Quiddity 15th March 2022 - 1:26 pm
I’ve ordered a bottle of the Cartron so I’ll have an opinion of some sort in a couple of weeks, though I won’t have anything available for direct comparison.
By Andy 16th March 2022 - 11:02 am
Great. Let us all know what you think of it.
By Quiddity 14th May 2022 - 11:59 am
It took a while but I finally got hold of my Cartron CdV. Bearing in mind I don’t have something to taste it against, my impressions are:
–ugly bottle, but I suppose that’s not the most important thing.
–nice chunky ABV, 20% (like the bitter truth) against some of the other 16% ish types.
–a dark violet colour—hard to believe that there isn’t added colour, though I can’t find any confirmation of that.
–really nicely balanced violet flavour, not tooooo intense but determinately floral, sprightly but not pushy. Possibly a tad on the sweet side but then it is a liqueur. Even if you can’t find an ingredients list on the internet, you can find details of the process by which the Egyptian violets end up in the drink, and they do seem to have found a way to wring all the flavour from them. Mrs Quiddity (new to the very concept of CdV) says “it’s like drinking a flower”, which is very much the sort of reaction you want.
–mixes up very nicely in both Aviations and Water Lillies. The floral note is present, structural, bit not too assertive or overwhelming.
All in all, and again noting that I don’t have comparisons to hand, I would say that this is a perfectly good CdV; if it’s all that’s available (say if you live in Sweden), there’s no need to hesitate or worry, and I suspect it would bear up very well in competition with those mentioned above.
By Quiddity 14th May 2022 - 12:02 pm
Looking again at the descriptions above, in fact, it seems that the Cartron might sit between the Brizard and the Bitter Truth, being a bit more forward in flavour and ABV than the BT (and more towards that hue) but not quite so intense as the Brizard. But this is something of a guess.
By Andy 16th May 2022 - 9:58 am
It’s all somewhat guessy as we’d be mad to have three or four different violet liqueurs on our shelf but I suspect your analysis is correct. Something between those is ideal for the Aviation and Water Lily.
By Andy 16th May 2022 - 9:55 am
Thanks for the review Q! And very timely too as I was about to replace my dwindling bottle of Marie Brizard CdV and hadn’t yet decided whether to go Cartron of Bitter Truth. From your description it sounds like the Cartron is exactly what I’m looking for – enough colour without so much violet that it overpowers the balance of these drinks. Given that I already know what the Bitter Truth is like I’m now also going to get some Cartron and will add my own impressions here in due course.
By Quiddity 27th May 2022 - 12:57 am
Ah good, I’ll look out for your thoughts!