For the third installment of Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet, I shall look at a liqueur that I have long been fascinated by and so I was exceptionally pleased to receive a bottle of it on the last day of 2010. Creme Yvette is part of a family of floral liqueurs, including Parfait Amore and Creme de Violette; the latter was, at one time, so rare that a John Steed & Emma Peel episode of The Avengers entitled ‘Two’s A Crowd’* revolves around its scarcity.
Creme Yvette was once made by the Sheffield Company of Connecticut, but later production was taken over by Charles Jacquin et Cie (makers of Rock & Rye). It was discontinued in 1969 due to lack of popularity.
Forty years on, it has been revived by Robert Cooper (the chap behind St Germaine Elderflower Liqueur) and is now made in France. Mr Cooper’s grandfather had acquired the rights to Creme Yvette in the 1930s, so an original recipe was easy to come by; however, as many of the original suppliers no longer existed, the hunt was on to find new sources of ingredients. The results are listed below:
Dried violet petals
A spiced blend of honey, orange peel and vanilla.
In order to check the authenticity of his new creation, Mr Cooper tested it against some existing,vintage bottles of Creme Yvette; in a similar fashion to those that have recreated Herbsaint Originale and, in a small way, my own recreations of Gordon’s Orange & Lemon Gin. Here are my notes on a variety of ways of drinking this liqueur yourself:
Créme Yvette is bottled at 27.75%ABV
Nose: Vanilla, strawberries and cream, but also floral, like sirop de rose.
Taste: Creme Yvette has a silky smooth texture, with flavours of sweet violets or violet creams. There are also faint hints of Turkish Delight and purple grape. Sweet & delicious.
The following cocktails come from the Creme Yvette website, Cocktail Database and Straub’s Drinks as well as a number of other vintage cocktail books.
#2) The Defender
[30ml Old Tom Gin, (Hayman’s), 30ml Sweet Vermouth, 5ml Creme Yvette, Dash Orange Bitters: STIR]
A bit like a sweet Martini, the sweet vermouth and the yvette go very well together. Some floral (violet and rose) and herbal notes on the finish. Lovely!
#3) NY Flyer
[40ml Rye Whisky, 20ml Lemon Juice, 10ml Creme Yvette, 10ml Marashino: SHAKE]
This is variation on the Aviation with the gin replaced with Rye whisky and the violette with Yvette.
#4) Blue Moon
[40ml Dry Gin, 10ml Creme Yvette: STIR – Lemon Twist]
Floral and anise flavours, although there is no pastis or absinthe in the drink. There’s also a little citrus and violet. Considering that this only contains two ingredients, this is a rather complex cocktail; elegant and excellent.
#5) Lavender Lady
[20ml Dry Gin, 10ml Calvados, 10ml Cointreau, 5ml Lemon Gin, 5ml Creme Yvette]
Delicious! All the ingredients are exceptionally balanced. Sweet floral notes with hints of apples to start, then the citrus of the orange & lemon, then the bitterness of the gin, warmth of the Calvados and then flavours of apples and strawberries on the finish.
[15ml Creme Yvette in a Champagne Flute, Top up with 80ml Champagne]
Quite nice; an alternative to a Kir Royale. I often find the Kir Royale too dry, but by using Yvette this isn’t a problem as this liqueur is a bit sweeter. There are specific flavours of violet and strawberry. The bubbles of the Champagne also fit the name of the cocktail very well.
#7) Angel’s Dream
Very unusual: the cream acts as an intriguing barrier before you get to the rest of the drink. The cream smooths out the warmth of the liqueurs and results in the drink seeming to melt on your tongue. It was just the right quantity at this size and would make a novel, but tasty alternative to an after dinner mint.
[35ml Dry Gin, 10ml Creme Yvette, 10ml St. Germaine Elderflower, Top up with Soda Water]
This uses another creation of Robert Cooper, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur. This cocktail is quite sweet ans fruit but for my tastes it is a bit sweet, even with addition of extra soda. I would recommend upping the quantity of gin and adding 5-10ml of lemon juice.
#9) Yvette’s Rainbow
[Layer a barspoon of the following: Calvados, Benedictine, Galliano, Green Chatreuse, White Creme de Cacao, Marashino and Créme Yvette.]
An exceptionally warming drink, full of the warmth of herbs and spice, and finished off with faint floral notes, courtesy of the Yvette. That doesn’t even mention how quirky it looks, my wife thought it looked as if it had been knitted and was amused that the layers remained intact as she drank.
It has probably already come across that I think Créme Yvette is an exceptionally fine liqueur and I am certainly glad that it, like Lazarus, has been brought back from the dead. I think it has a place both as a cocktail ingredient and as a liqueur to sip. One well-informed friend commented that it was much more easy to appreciate Créme Yvette on it’s own then Créme de Violette, I’m inclined to agree.
Top cocktails would have to be the New York Flyer and The Lavender Lady although it makes a cracking Aviation too. A comparison of a Créme de violette vs. a Créme Yvette Aviation is available here. I just hope that Créme Yvette will be available in the UK soon!
* This is one of my very favourite Avengers episodes.