Just so that you know, this is a review of a product of which I was sent a free sample. The opinions in the post are, as ever, mine, and the review is honest. Please note my Patrick Stewart-worthy sentence arrangement in the first line there.
The Bitter Truth is a brand that I’m very excited about, and when I was sent a sample of their delectable Violet Liqueur I was simultaneously excited and nervous. I wanted to make sure that I made the most of the chance to showcase the product, even though I’m very new to mixing cocktails. In fact, you could say I’m pre-new, given that I’m all theory and no practise. The end result was that I planned for weeks how best to use this liqueur, and when it came to acting out these plans, it went a little wronger than I’d hoped. Still, I ended up with one nice result, and a couple of pictures that almost, but not quite, reflect the beautiful colour of the liqueur. Here’s a shot of it served neat, on the rocks:
To backtrack a little, if you haven’t heard of The Bitter Truth, go and have a look at their website.Their branding is beautiful, and so on trend with a Victoriana, Steampunky, Sherlock Holmes kind of vibe. I don’t usually use the phrase ‘on trend’ but it definitely seems to fit on this occasion. Here’s a pic of their violet liqueur – the label is shiny, which delights me beyond all reason.
The company began as a producer and distributor of cocktail bitters – bitters used to be a far more common ingredient, but have dropped in availability and popularity over the years. The Bitter Truth aims to bring them back to the bartenders of today, both professional and amateur, and as such have created a range of interesting bitters including orange, celery and creole, as well as two more traditional flavours. As well as their range of bitters (which I’ll be reviewing at a later date, having bought myself their travel pack as a treat), TBT make a range of fascinating liqueurs, including apricot, pimento, sloe gin and the intriguingly named Golden Falernum – a rum based spiced liqueur.
Perhaps you can begin to see why I’m so into the company?
There are four serving suggestions on the product page for the violet liqueur. They describe the flavour as follows:
Slightly sweet and very flowery. The violet aroma is very subdued and natural.
I would agree with this summary, but I would add the word ‘potent’. You may expect the aromatic and fragrant taste of the drink, but let’s not forget that it’s 22% alcohol by volume, so it does carry a certain bite. Flowery and natural is right, it doesn’t carry the synthetic taste that the colour might suggest, and that an inferior product might deliver. Three of the four suggested cocktail recipes include gin – gin is an obvious partner in crime for this indigo elixir, as it has inherent botanical notes without any colour to detract from the rich blue-purple tint. I tried two cocktails of my own using gin and violet liqueur – one had sparkling rose grape juice, and the other an elderflower cordial. Neither worked out – the colour was muddy, the taste excessively overpowering. I finally struck gold (or, indeed, purple) by keeping it very, very simple. Often the best way when dealing with quality ingredients such as this.
The Cherry Violet (better names accepted via the comments):
- 20ml Violet Liqueur
- 4 – 5 fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
- ice cubes
Shake the liqueur, cherries and ice vigorously in a cocktail shaker, until the shaker frosts over. Pour into a glass and serve immediately. Sip. Eat the fruit at your peril.
Alternatively, top up with soda, to taste – not too much, mind. Layer the soda over the liqueur by leaning the bowl of a teaspoon, upside down, against the edge of the glass and very slowly pouring the soda over it.
For a final touch you can frost the rim of the glass with crushed parma violets (unless you think they taste like soap, in a bad way) and, if you’re in the mood, a pinch of edible purple glitter. Here’s a decorated glass from one of my earlier experiments.
I’ll be writing another two posts on The Bitter Truth. For now, I can say that this is one company which is absolutely not style over substance.
To buy The Bitter Truth products, you can visit their online shop or check with your local quality spirits emporium. Or Google.