Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Creme Yvette

Crème Yvette is the one that intrigues me - a liqueur made of candied violets and flavored with vanilla & other unknown spices. The manufacturer discontinued it sometime in the 60's. France that still produces Crème de Violette, which is similar, but close to impossible to find.

I haven't done the Mixology Monday party in awhile, but was on the site & saw that there is a conference on lost cocktail ingredients this weekend in New Orleans. Attendees will learn how to make falernum (got it!), pimento dram (got it!), bitters (sounds complicated), crème yvette, and crème de rose.

There's a rumor that Dr. Cocktail (of the Internet Cocktail Database fame) knows the recipe and makes it for his friends ... but so far no one has leaked the recipe online yet. I looked. Hopefully some nice fellow will blog about it after the conference!

And while looking, I found this strange liqueur on the Household Cyclopedia. It's a website that reprints articles from the an 1881 series of how-to manuals. It covers everything from mettalurgy to whisky making. Just reading the site conjures up a lost world of back-yard stills and American self-sufficiency, of the age before everything became commodified and standardized. Recipes call for ambergris and cochineal, herbs that we don't grow anymore & fruit varietals that I have never heard of (bigarades and cedrat, anyone?).

Most of the recipes are beyond me - I don't have a still. This one - a Crème d'Orange flavored with saffron - intrigues me. I haven't been able to make a decent orange liqueur yet. It might be worth another try ... assuming I can figure out what all the terms mean and how to do all this in a modern kitchen.

Creme d'Orange of Superior Flavor

Take 3 doz. middling sized oranges; orange-flower water, 2 qts.; loaf sugar, 18 lbs.; spirit of wine, 2 galls.; tincture of saffron, 1 1/2 oz.; water, 4 1/2 galls. This will produce 7 1/2 galls.

Cut the oranges in slices, put them into a cask, add the spirit and orange-flower water, let it stand a fortnight, then boil the sugar in the water for 1/2 an hour, pour it out, and let it stand till cold, then add it to the mixture in the cask, and put in the tincture of Saffron. Let it remain a fortnight longer, then strain, and proceed as directed in the receipt for Cremes de Barbades, and a very fine cordial will be produced.

To make Real Creme des Barbades

Take 2 doz. middling-sized lemons, 6 large citrons; loaf sugar, 28 lbs,; fresh balm leaves, 3 lb.; spirit of wine, 2 1/2 galls.; water, 3 1/2 galls. This will produce about 7 galls., full measure. Cut the lemons and citrons in thin slices, and put them into a cask; pour upon them the spirit of wine, bung down close, and let it stand 10 days or a fortnight then break the sugar, and boil it for 1/2 an hour in the 33 galls. of water, skimming it frequently; then chop the balm-leaves, put them into a large pan, and pour upon them the boiling liquor, and let it stand till quite cold; then strain it through a lawn sieve, and put it to the spirits etc., in the cask; bung down close, and in a fortnight draw it off; strain it through a jelly bag, and let it remain to fine; then bottle it.

The best I found for flowers was to take 4 cups of vodka and 1-2 cups lavender leaves (or 1/3 the amount dried), let steep for two days, and 1 cup sugar, shake to dissolve, let steep for two weeks, and strain. I'm assuming this could work for violets also. It looks too simple to be the right recipe, and it doesn't look like a creme. It might be a start, though.

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