Jamie Boudreau is much cooler than I am, and he wrote these excellent posts on the topic of creme de violette. In the second post he gives the recipe for a drink called the Attention Cocktail, and I thought the combination of ingredients was too interesting to pass up.
2 oz gin (Beefeater)
1/4 oz dry vermouth (Dolin)
1/4 oz absinthe (Arak and I can’t read the bottle)
1/4 oz creme de violette (Monin violet syrup)
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass
garnish with a lemon twist
As you can see, I substituted Monin violet syrup for creme de violette, and Lebanese arak for absinthe. Arak is similar to pastis, which is made by maceration of aniseed and licorice root in a base spirit. Arak uses a grape distillate for its base spirit, and does not contain licorice root, but just like pastis or anisette, the end result is a licorice bomb in your drink that greedily stomps on every other flavor. Every drink I have tried to make using pastis as a flavoring agent has been so licorice-forward that I can barely enjoy it, even with a quarter ounce.
If you read Jamie Boudreau’s post you’ll notice he tried Monin’s creme de violette, and thought that it was awful, but he had better things to say about the syrup. I find the syrup to be pleasant and highly aromatic, though as with most floral flavoring agents, a little goes a long way. I had high hopes that the quarter ounce of violet syrup would be able to stand up to the quarter ounce of arak, and it did better than most, but it, too, was mostly defeated. As you can see, the violet lent this drink a mild purple hue, which looked very elegant with the the slice of lemon peel.
The gin and the dry vermouth were mostly lost in this concoction, just barely perceptible as an herbal baseline to the anise, which filled the palate until the swallow, when the violet was allowed to come through. My new policy on licorice drinks is going to be a dash and no more. Even so, the combination of these flavors was intriguing, and I intend to try it again with much less arak.