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Liquid Flowers

Richard Carleton Hacker

Bordeaux is known for its wine, but the wildly successful liqueur Crème Yvette, an almost mystical Victorian French spirit made by the Cooper Spirits Company, has been brought back to life within this famous city. Originally introduced in the 1890s, Crème Yvette, with its primary component of fresh violets, was the inspiration of many popular cocktails during the turn of the last century. But by the 1960s, it had ceased to exist.

Now the recipe has been dusted off and enhanced by Robert Cooper, whose grandfather originally acquired it in the 1930s. An intensely floral liqueur, Crème Yvette, using a pressoir pneumatic maceration process, is an infusion of orange peels and honey, along with blackberry, raspberry, cassis, wild strawberry, and, most prominently, dried violet petals from Provence.

The violet petals give Crème Yvette its distinctive color and incredibly intense, almost intoxicating floral flavor. Combined with brut champagne as a 1946 aperitif from the Stork Club known as the Stratosphere, or used in other vintage cocktails such as Blue Moon (1940), Submarine Kiss (1915), and the Yvette (1930), one can experience tastes that previously could have only been imagined. Priced at $40 and showcased in its revived Victorian packaging, Crème Yvette opens a long-forgotten door to the mixologist’s world. (www.cremeyvette.com)

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