I am a huge fan of the Aviation cocktail. Unfortunately to make it right, you need Crème de Violette liqueur – something that’s both hard to find and only used in a small number of cocktails.
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.
(Sorry for the photo quality, I had to steal a screen capture from the video for this one!)
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:
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.
I’m still very happy with the outcome of this little experiment, and am happy to report my bottle of Crème de Hibiscus has found a happy permanent home on the bar.
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!