Pre-prohibition cocktails and modern twists on classics

Side by Side – Violette & Yvette

YvetteViolette

Often thought of interchangeably, these two spirits are less similar than many realize.


So what makes them different?

CrÈme de Violette is made from violets which are paired with a base spirit and sweetened. CrÈme Yvette is made from four types of berries and violets with the addition of honey and orange peel which is then paired with a base spirit.


What’s the big deal?

I know what you are thinking, they both contain violets, are “crÈmes” and look similar in color in the bottle. In fact, if you saw the two on the shelf, you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart. The guy at the liquor store will probably tell you they are basically the same thing but that CrÈme Yvette is the “original” or that it is higher end with its gorgeous bottle.

I’ll admit even I fell pray to this, thinking, “hhmm, I have crÈme de violette, but I bet the Yvette is going to make an even better Aviation.” So many articles online and in print seem to say that it is the classic ingredient for this cocktail after all, heck it even says so on the label. It must be true. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Just pour some CrÈme Yvette and you’ll immediately notice a big difference between it and CrÈme de Violette. . . . the Color. While as expected the Violette comes out purple as can be, the Yvette has a much more reddish color you can’t appreciate when looking at the bottle.

This gets more dramatic when it’s diluted by mixing in a drink. All of a sudden your Aviation has a strange reddish color or maybe you are drinking a “Red Moon” instead of a Blue Moon cocktail. Not to mention the taste in the Aviation is somewhat off (I actually kind of like it in the Blue Moon, despite the color).


YvetteViolette 4


So what gives?

While it may sound like I’m trying to be harsh on CrÈme Yvette, that is not my intention. Truth be told, I really enjoy the stuff. Check out Minty Blues and Mint Blulep, two drinks that would not be the same without CrÈme Yvette.

I just don’t like it so much in classic cocktails, especially ones it was never designed to be in, such as the Aviation (can you tell I really love my Aviations). Furthermore the color is different from the original, so even when you make a Blue Moon, which originally calls for Yvette, it doesn’t look the slightest bit blue. The revived Yvette contains no added color, which is what gave the original a darker look more similar to crÈme de violette.

My biggest issue comes with the marketing of the product and general lack of knowledge about it, something which I myself am also guilty of (remember I bought it ignorant of its difference from creme de violette).

Hopefully between the write ups for each spirit and this tasting comparison, folks will get a better feel for each of these products and understand that they are not as similar as they may seem. Ultimately, I’m hoping that rather than buying CrÈme Yvette and being completely disappointed when added to your favorite violet laced drink, that you choose to buy it on its own merits.


Ok enough rambling, let’s get to tasting.


 Appearance

CrÈme de Violette – a much more violet purple color.

CrÈme Yvette – more of a deep red with a slight violet hue.

Both appear thin and low viscocity


Nose

CrÈme de Violette – pure violet with a hint of sweetness

CrÈme Yvette – mixed berries, sweeter, hint of violet. Smells more like a port or light blackberry brandy


YvetteViolette 2

Hhhmm. . . Wonder which is which?


Taste

CrÈme de Violette – intense violet taste, a little sweeter than the smell, but tastes basically like it smells – violet candy.

CrÈme Yvette – More berries up front, then layering into violet. Much stronger violet presence than the nose. More complex with hints of honey, vanilla as well. A bit sweeter in a sugary way.


Finish

CrÈme de Violette – a hint of alcohol at the finish, but overall a fairly one note flavor – sweet violets

CrÈme Yvette – complex, violet, drying out a bit at the finish.


Cost

CrÈme de Violette – $25-30

CrÈme Yvette – $35-45


YvetteViolette 3


As you can likely see, if you are looking for a one note flavor, pure violet, then obviously CrÈme de Violette is the way to go. That being said, there is so much more complexity in the CrÈme Yvette. If you are in the mood for a sweeter sip, you could even enjoy it neat. Conversely, I don’t think I would make a habit of drinking CrÈme de Violette neat.

Looking for violet flavor and color in your cocktails?

Again CrÈme de Violette is your go to, and it even works well for cocktails that originally used Yvette. I can’t say the same thing the other way around though. Creme de Violette is also typically less expensive.

Looking to try some of the classics with Creme Yvette?

Then give CrÈme Yvette a shot. Despite the color being different, supposedly it tastes very much like the original Yvette. Not to mention it’s good to use in newer creations.

If you could only buy one?

Start with the CrÈme de Violette. It will be much more useful in classics and will give you the color you are expecting.


While I prefer CrÈme de Violette in most classic cocktails,  CrÈme Yvette is a great tasting product that has a unique flavor unlike most anything else. Just go into it knowing what you are buying and don’t believe that these two crÈmes are the same.


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2 Responses to “Side by Side – Violette & Yvette”

  1. Scott

    This was a great post Nick and I would agree with you that I think Violette and Yvette are NOT as interchangeable as so many people say they are. But I do prefer Yvette for when crafting contemporary cocktails, especially if they have bourbon, flavored vodka or most amari, like Ramazzotti. As for gin, Violette is usually my go to. Though I did like the classic Defender cocktail with the original Yvette vs Violette. I think it played better with the sweet vermouth, Old Tom gin and orange bitters better. Thanks again for enlightening us on these two forgotten and revived ingredients. Cheers!

    Reply
    • The Straight Up

      Scott,

      Thanks for dropping by. I agree Yvette is great in new cocktails. I really like the flavor and as you said it goes especially well with bourbon and amari. You really have to look at it as a “new” product in a lot of ways. I need to try the Defender with Yvette as I can picture it being better as you said.

      Reply

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