DIY Crème de Violette?
I originally wanted to try my hand at making a DIY Crème de Violette. But a bit of research revealed two things: first, violet petals are very hard to come by, and secondly, there’s a rumor that violets grown in the USA are not as fragrant as those in France, making them unsuitable for this experiment.
With Crème de Violette looking difficult, I realized that I just happen to have a large bag of dried hibiscus flowers, left over from an event last year. It’s certainly a very different flower, but I thought perhaps a Crème de Hibiscus might be a worthy stand-in for the floral element in the Aviation. There’s only one way to find out!
Homemade Crème de Violette Hibiscus
How to Make Crème de Hibiscus:
Since there really aren’t any recipes on the internet for this particular liqueur, I adapted a bit of what I know about Crème liqueuers and a couple of tutorials for DIY Crème de Violette. Our goal is to make a Crème Liqueur that’s bright and floral – just like Crème de Violette.
Step 1: Infuse the Spirit
When making liqueurs in the past, I’ve typically started with an infused spirit. I decided to follow the same plan here. I placed roughly one cup of dried hibiscus flowers into a non-reactive container (in my case, a glass jar) and covered it with roughly 2 cups of neutral spirit (vodka). I gave it a good stir and let it infuse for roughly 24 hours, stirring periodically and tasting.
By the way – I did some digging and found some good options for dried hibiscus flowers on Amazon.com. Scroll down to the end of this post for links!
Step 2: Strain to Stop the Infusion
Just like any infusion, I tasted every couple of hours and decided around the 24 hour mark that it’d reached the intensity I wanted. I strained it out to remove the flowers and discarded them.
Step 3: Add Water and Sweetener
As I mentioned in the video, the word “Crème” is deceiving – while it looks like “Cream”, it doesn’t mean that this is a cream liqueur. Instead, it means that the liqueur has been sweetened. This is because many “Crème” liqueurs have so much sweetener added that they get an almost “syrupy” (or creamy) texture. I also know that Crème liqueurs are nowhere near as high in alcohol content than the vodka I used for my infusion. So I’m going to need to water it down as well.
So I decided to kill two birds with one stone and create a triple-strong simple syrup which would add both sweetness and water to the infused mixture. I ended up using a little more than a cup of my triple-simple syrup in this case. I’d say use between one and one-and-a-half cups, according to your taste preference.
Step 4: Make an Aviation!
After you’ve added your simple syrup, you’re basically done – except, of course, the most important step. It’s time to make an Aviation!
Crème de Hibiscus Aviation Recipe:
The Aviation is a true classic. In this recipe we’re making it with our homemade Crème de Hibiscus instead of the traditional Crème de Violette
- 1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin
- 1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
- 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
- 1 barspoon Crème de Hibiscus (Traditionally, Crème de Violette)
- 1 each Brandied Cherry (For Garnish)
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake
- Fine-strain into a chilled cocktail glass
- Garnish with a Brandied cherry
Crème de Hibiscus: A Viable Alternative to Crème de Violette?
You can definitely tell this is an Aviation by taste – though I’ll be the first to admit the color is much more reddish / purple than the more traditional blue color. The flavor is good, but I felt there was room for the liqueur to bring more floral flavor to the drink. It’s good – really good. But it’s not quite as floral as I’d like. If I did this again, I’d consider infusing the simple syrup as well as the liquor to kick up the floral element even more.
Where to find Dried Hibiscus Flowers:
I did a bit of research online and found some good options for folks looking for inexpensive hibiscus flowers that should work with this recipe.
(Note: these are affiliate links, which means your clicks help support this site! Thank you!)
How about you?
Have you made a DIY Crème de Violette in the past, or another floral liqueur? I’d love to hear your tips for getting the most “floral” flavor – let me know in the comments!
Do you think steeping the flowers longer would yield a more floral liqueur? Or do you think it would get too harsh and woody?
The direction we were going to try next was to make a hibiscus tea and use that to make the syrup. I’ll be honest with you, I’m not sure it’s going to work. This liqueur would really benefit from floral aromatics (which it was missing), but that’s something that often comes from the oils – (think: citrus). So I’m wondering if part of the problem is that we were working with DRIED hibiscus flowers, where the oils are not as prevalent as they might be in a fresh violet petal. Hard to say if a longer infusion would have helped, but I have a sneaky suspicion it wouldn’t solve our “aromatics” problem!
Thanks a lot for this article!
Glad you liked it JJ 🙂
Dried hibiscus flowers are readily (and inexpensively) available in Caribbean markets; there they are known as sorrel (not to be comfused with the leafy green!). I use them when making my homemade grenadine
Dried hibiscus flowers are readily (and inexpensively) available in Caribbean markets, where they are known as sorrel (not to be confused with the leafy green). I use it in my homemade grenadine.
Great tip Brenda, thanks!
While I don’t believe there are equivalent US guidelines, the EU has strict guidelines on labeling of liqueurs based on sugar content (and let’s be honest, most of the really good liqueurs come from Europe). Liqueurs must have at least 100 grams of sugar per liter, and creme liqueurs must have at least 250g/L. Creme de cassis is a minimum of 400 g/L (or 450 g/L, I’ve read both numbers). You’ll also rarely see something labeled a double creme liqueur (typically creme de cassis; the only one I’ve seen in the US is Carton Double Cassis).
If you’re too lazy or impatient to make this hibiscus liqueur yourself, there are some good commercial offerings I’ve used. FruitLabs of California make a nice organic hibiscus liqueur. There is also Sorel, a hibiscus liqueur spiced with clove, cassia, ginger & nutmeg, produced by Jack from Brooklyn. I especially like Sorel; I crafted some cocktails for a Jamaican themed dinner and used it to good effect in a (Kingston) Negroni riff (Smith & Cross rum, Punt e Mes, Campari & Sorrel).
There is nothing about French violets that somehow makes them more fragrant than American ones. That is some high level Francophile woo right there. You have to have the right *species*: Viola odorata (odorata means “fragrant”).Viola odorata in France or America are all the same flower.