Perfectly lovely?

February 18th, 2008

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?

Jupiter Cocktail

Jupiter Cocktail

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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.

Jupiter Cocktail

English Rose

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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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Posted in Gin, Grenadine, Lemon, Orange, Parfait Amour, Recipes, Vermouth

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8 responses to “Perfectly lovely?”

  1. Gabriel Gabriel says:

    Nice post, Jay; it was difficult for me to find recipes using it as well, and I found the Jupiter a so-so drink as well as ashen gray. I wish mine would have turned out as beautifully as yours because it’s not too appetizing-looking as it is.

  2. Foliosus Foliosus says:

    I’m currently drinking an English Rose — made with real grenadine, not dyed corn syrup — and it’s a fantastic, light drink. I don’t find it too sweet: it’s a perfect come-home-from-work kind of a drink, very refreshing. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Jay Jay says:

    Foliosus, I’d love to know what recipe you used for your grenadine. I too used a home-made version – I don’t have the exact recipe to hand but it is Robert Hess’ version where you essentially boil pomegranate seeds in sugar syrup. Also which Parfait Amour did you use? I’ve a feeling the cocktails we drank were probably vastly different owing to the ingredients used…

  4. Foliosus Foliosus says:

    I wish I could say that I had made my own, but alas I used Stirrings’ Authentic Grenadine. The only Parfait Amour I could find was Marie Brizard, which I really like. It’s my first bottle, and I opened it tonight: I’m definitely going to be experimenting with it more. Next is a blue angel…

  5. sabrinas sabrinas says:

    i get my grenadine at arabic markets (haven’t had a chance to make my own) — it’s like 2 bucks (sometimes labeled “pomegranete syrup”), pure sweet pom, and is amazing!

  6. Jen Jen says:

    Where did you find Parfait Amour ? My friend had a lavender cosmopolitan — which calls for the Parfait Amour — and LOVED it. We want to have a “Cosmo Night” and make these but can’t find the Amour. Thanks

  7. Jay Jay says:

    Jen – I’m not from the States and availability varies between states a lot, but I did spot Parfait Amour in a few New York City liquor shops I was in last month. Sorry I can’t be more help!

  8. keith keith says:

    I picked up a bottle of the Marie Brizzard Parfait Amour today and just tried a couple of the English Rose Cocktails.

    I made the first one exactly like the posted recipe using Beefeater Gin, Meyer Lemons, M&R Dry Vermouth and Homemade Grenadine (reduced bottled pomegranate juice with some sugar added to get a 219F boiling point for 66 brix syrup)- the meyer lemons are lower acid than a regular lemon and the drink was too sweet for me.

    I made the second one with twice as much Meyer Lemon juice and it was a better drink, but still not a drink that makes my top 25.

    This bottle of Parfait Amour may last a very long time.

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