Petaluma-based Tempus Fugit, maker of Gran Classico bitters and absinthes, has just released a 19th-century-style spirit, Liqueur de Violettes. The color's a natural blue-pink (from the violets it's made from, hand-harvested in the sunny Côte d'Azur). It was traditionally used with Champagne or in cocktails like the Aviation, until it fell out of favor. Often confused with Parfait Amour and Crème Yvette, which contain citrus, vanilla, and spices, the flavor here is more floral. If you like St. Germain, you'll love Liqueur de Violettes.
The formula is based on a mid-19th-century French recipe, and Tempus Fugit makes it in micro-batches. What makes it unusual is that this is a liqueur and not a crème. The difference is sugar: If you add enough sugar to a spirit (more than 2.5 percent in the U.S.), it becomes a liqueur; add a LOT of sugar to a spirit, and you get a crème (crème de menthe, crème de cacao, etc.).
With blossoms and spring fever arriving any day now, Liqueur de Violettes just might conjure a bouquet in a glass.
Recipe courtesy of Scott Beattie of Spoonbar
1/2 oz Tempus Fugit Liqueur de Violettes
1/2 oz Maraschino liqueur
1 1/2 ozs Voyager or other fine, dry gin
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
Place ingredients and ice in a shaker and shake hard for 7 seconds. Double-strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with lemon peel.
Vin de Violette
An original recipe created by Brooke Arthur of Prospect
1/4 oz Tempus Fugit Liqueur de Violettes
2 1/4 ozs dry vermouth
1.5 oz Dry Fino sherry
1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur
1 bar-spoon Vieux Pontarlier absinthe
Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass and strain into a fizz glass. Garnish with lemon peel.
Tempus Fugit Spirits' Liqueur de Violettes: $27.99/750ml bottle at K&L Wine Merchants, 638 Fourth St. (at Townsend), 896-1734 .