Tales of a mythical violet liqueur
Two years ago, it happened to me. I became determined that I would make violet liqueur.
My friend Susan told me about an incredible violet liqueur she found while traveling in Greece. With her experience as a bartender and world traveler, one could not take her praise of the violet liqueur lightly.
I had made a few liqueurs before, some at Sage mountain in the herbal classes. Irish Creme, creamy coco damiana blends. They were delicious and surprisingly easy. I had seen Theresa Broadwine make liqueurs at Medicines from the Earth. I had even tried my hand at making dandelion wine.
The idea of capturing the essence of violets was too much to shake. I wondered if I could possibly make one myself, if I could ever find that many violets to pick.
Spring came, and the violets came with it!
Dark purple-blue and highly fragrant, violets abundantly carpeted edges of parks, filled in the medians and spilled over on to the sidewalk on just about every block on in my neighborhood in southeast Portland.
The recipe I was going to use was from a Swedish blog. I couldn’t read most of it of course, but the recipe seemed straight forward. I could easily decipher “sugar” “water” and “violets” and the numbers in the directions.
It took a few days, but I found the 1000 grams I needed. I made the extract, strained it a few days later, added the simple syrup and alcohol. Let it mellow. Two months later I pour a shot to try the finished product.
One sip and I knew I messed it up. It was obviously watered down. I checked my recipe and realized I made a mistake and added too much water and not enough alcohol. I still used my less-then stunning violet liqueur. It had a nice fragrance and mixed well with champagne, juices, and carbonated water. It goes great with Elderflower Pressé and port, as shown in the photos. But it wasn’t of mythical proportions as I had hoped.
When in doubt, make an elixir
This year, I felt the call of the violets again. They came about 3 weeks earlier than they did two years ago, and I spend a week scouting out easy to pick locations before the harvesting. I also knew I’d be making a glycerine elixir instead of a simple sugar based liqueur. I based it on Kiva Rose’s Rose Elixir recipe that I have relied on for many delicious elixirs.
• Pack 2.5 cups of fresh, fragrant violet flowers to a quart jar
• Fill the jar 3/4 full of 40 proof alcohol (I used brandy)
• top off the last 1/4 with glycerine
• Shake well. Let macerate for 4-8 weeks. Strain and re-bottle.