Parfait Amour is a purple liqueur that used to be a popular ladies drink in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. For a reason I’m not exactly sure of I always assumed Parfait Amour had a flavour similar to Crème de Violette, but although they both have a violet element to their taste they are rather different beasts. Where Crème de Violette has an explicit taste of violets Parfait Amour has just a suggestion, with its predominant flavour being a sort of sweet citrus. There is also an element of rose petals and a hint of vanilla, which when all combined make for a fairly sweet liqueur that reminds me of the cheap penny-chews (candy) that I enjoyed as a child.
Arguably Parfait Amour is more obscure than Crème de Violette, the former being used in far fewer recipes – indeed I’m not sure I’d have ever been aware of it were it not for Fry and Laurie. Despite this it is produced by two of the major liqueur companies, Bols and Marie Brizard, as well a few smaller, generally French, companies. Gabriel reports the Brizard as having an orange nose which I definitely didn’t get from my bottle of Joseph Cartron, though the background flavours he describes sound fairly similar. Anyone tried the various varieties side-by-side?
- 1½ shots / 45 ml / 1½ oz gin
- ¾ shot / 22.5 ml / ¾ oz dry vermouth
- 1 bar-spoon Parfait Amour
- 1 bar-spoon orange juice
- Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain in to a cocktail glass.
Now I’m not sure quite what happened here. Ted Haigh advises in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails that the Jupiter is supposed to turn out a murky grey-blue colour, but my version is a lovely clear pinky hue. I used all the right ingredients – Plymouth gin, Noilly Prat vermouth, Joseph Cartron Parfait Amour and fresh squeezed orange juice, all carefully measured and shaken like crazy. Perhaps my Parfait Amour is coloured differently to the Marie Brizard version which I’m guessing most of my contemporaries from across the pond use?
The Jupiter takes an ordinary wet Martini base and adds a certain something in the background for extra interest. The orange juice and Parfait Amour adds a nice orangey citrus edge, with the later also providing hints of rose and violets, plus a sort of grape-like sweetness. Like the Claridge Cocktail I tried a few days ago, the Jupiter is not a drink that really jumps out in the way something like the Last Word does. It is nonetheless an interesting variation on the Martini, and worth giving a try.
- 1¾ shots / 52.5 ml / 1¾ oz gin
- ¾ shot / 22.5 ml / ¾ oz dry vermouth
- ½ shot / 15 ml / ½ oz Parfait Amour
- ¼ shot / 7.5 ml / ¼ oz lemon juice
- 1 bar-spoon grenadine syrup
- Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
The English Rose again takes its base from a wet Martini, however the increased amount of Parfait Amour makes for a much sweeter cocktail. Strangely though, despite using more the Parfait Amour seems less pronounced that in the Jupiter Cocktail, blending more with the other ingredients. The combination gave a certain richness to the drink, which almost reminded me of sweet vermouth, but ultimately the ingredients didn’t seem to quite hang together fully. It was a bit too sweet, and didn’t really seem to know where it was going. The mixture does seem to have promise though – tackle the sweetness and you might have quite an interesting drink going on.
I found it really difficult to find cocktail recipes that used Parfait Amour. Despite going through The Savoy Cocktail Book and The Old Waldorf-Astoria bar book cover to cover, plus making use of the ingredients index in Difford’s Guide, I only found the two drinks above that looked worth trying, as well as the Trilby which I couldn’t make owing to my lack of Scotch. If anyone has any other recipes worth trying please do let me know…
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