Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Yale Cocktail

The Yale Cocktail

Hints of violet add zest to this aromatic drink

It’s back to school time (again).

Last month we featured The Harvard Cocktail. So it’s only fitting that we now highlight a drink named after Harvard’s great ivy league rival, Yale University.

Especially since November is when many US colleges meet their traditional foes on the football field to decide which school gets bragging rights for the year.

In the spirit of unbiased research, we’ll drink to both sides.


The Yale Cocktail

Recipe: The Yale Cocktail

This drink has evolved considerably over the years—and there are numerous recipes. The original (which dates to at least the 1890s) called for nothing but gin and bitters. Then dry vermouth joined in, and the drink became Martini-like.

Over the years, the standard recipe evolved to include Crème Yvette, a violet-flavored liqueur. Yvette had a purplish hue, so the drink evoked Yale’s school color: Blue.

Crème Yvette went out of production during the late 1960s. But crème de violette (also violet-flavored, as the name suggests) made an admirable substitute. Although its flavor isn’t quite as complex as Crème Yvette, it works perfectly in this cocktail.

Now Crème Yvette is back on the market—so you can use either one in this drink. Their flavor is reasonably similar.

But be aware that some distillers produce violet liqueurs with a hue that is more reddish than purple—one that is in fact suspiciously close to crimson, Harvard’s school color. So if you want to be authentic (at least in terms of appearance), search for a brand that looks bluish-purple. BTW, we tested this drink using both a reddish Crème Yvette and a bluish-purple crème de violette. For the pictures that accompany this post, we used the version with crème de violette.

Our favorite recipe for this drink comes from the Yale Alumni Magazine. BTW, they use Crème Yvette for their recipe—and one with a crimson hue, no less. The horror!

This recipe serves one, and takes about 5 minutes to prepare.

 Ingredients
  • 2 ounces dry gin
  • ¾ ounce Crème Yvette or crème de violette (see Notes)
  • ¼ ounce maraschino liqueur (see Notes)
  • ¼ ounce dry vermouth
  • dash of orange bitters (see Notes)
  • lemon twist or wedge for garnish (optional)
Procedure
  1. Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a mixing glass half-filled with ice. Stir briskly until well chilled (20 to 30 seconds).
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass, preferably one that has been chilled. Garnish (if desired) and serve.
The Yale Cocktail

Notes
  • Why stir rather than shake this drink? Because the ingredients are clear. Shaking can introduce small bubbles, which make a drink cloudy (although the cloudiness disappears quickly). Cloudiness isn't a problem when some ingredients are opaque (think citrus juice). But it can be unattractive with clear ingredients. With that said, we often just shake drinks that “should” be stirred.
  • Some recipes for this cocktail leave out the maraschino liqueur. We’ve tried the drink with and without, and prefer it with. 
  • If you’re not using maraschino liqueur, we have a couple of recipe suggestions for you. The first calls for 1¾ ounces of gin, ½ ounce dry vermouth, ¼ ounce Crème Yvette or crème de violette, and 1 dash of bitters. The second calls for 2 ounces of gin, ⅓ ounce of dry vermouth, ⅓ ounce of Crème Yvette or crème de violette, and a dash of bitters.
  • Maraschino is a colorless, dry (i.e., not sweet) Italian liqueur made from Marasca cherries, including the crushed cherry pits. It was developed at a Dominican monastery in Venetian Dalmatia during the 16th century. It began to be called Maraschino about 200 years later, when industrial production began.
  • Not every liquor store carries maraschino liqueur (the Luxardo brand is the most common one found in the US). If yours doesn’t, find a better liquor store. Or ask the store to order it for you.
  • If you still can’t find maraschino liqueur, don’t try to substitute juice from a jar of those fluorescent red maraschino cherries. The flavor (and color) bear no resemblance to those of the liqueur.
  • As noted above, Crème Yvette and crème de violette both include violet flavoring (among other ingredients). Crème de violette tends to be a bit sweeter. Crème Yvette’s flavor seems a bit more complex (at least to us), and has some hints of blackberries.
  • We bought both to taste-test for this cocktail. If you want to buy only one (a rational decision), we would suggest crème de violette. It’s probably the more versatile of the two (you can use it in more drinks). 
  • In addition to being nice cocktail ingredients, both Crème Yvette and crème de violette can be consumed neat as after-dinner drinks.
  • BTW, we’ve read that Crème Yvette was named after Yvette Guilbert, a French cabaret singer, actress, and author. You may have seen her image in paintings—she was a favorite of the artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. 
  • Some recipes for the Yale Cocktail specify blue curaçao (an orange flavored liqueur). At the time these recipes were developed, bartenders were having a hard time obtaining Crème Yvette and crème de violette. So they substituted blue curaçao mainly because it was the “right” color. Unfortunately, the resulting drink is not very tasty (in our opinion, at least); we don’t recommend it. 
  • Orange bitters work best in this drink. But Angostura bitters will work in a pinch. 
  • Harvard and Yale aren’t the only colleges that have inspired cocktails. There are also drinks named after Dartmouth, Penn, Columbia, and Brown, among others.  
  • Yale University is located in New Haven, Connecticut. It was founded in 1701, making it the third oldest institution of higher learning in the US. 
  • Originally, it was called the Collegiate School. But in 1718 it was renamed to honor a (sizable) gift from businessman Elihu Yale. 
  • Like Harvard, Yale was founded to train ministers. The curriculum was similar to other colleges of the time—heavy on religious subjects and classical languages (Greek and Latin). Over time, as new fields of study developed, Yale broadened its curriculum and became more secular. Nowadays, of course, it is a world-class university.
The Yale Cocktail

Purple Prose

“Mmm,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, sipping from a crimson-hued glass. “Nice.”

“Mine too,” I said, tasting my bluish-purple tipple. “Let’s trade glasses so you can try it.”

“Yum,” said Mrs K R. “This drink could become my nemesis. Sort of a purple people eater.”

“The color is not quite the true blue of Yale,” I said. “But for drink purposes, close enough.”

“Besides—at least in days past—most of the students at Yale were probably born to the purple,” said Mrs K R.

“True,” I said. “The school has always appealed to blue bloods.”

“So which of these versions do you like better?” asked Mrs K R. “I vote for the one with crème de violette.”

“The one with Crème Yvette is my slight favorite,” I said. “But emphasis on slight. I won’t go purple with rage defending it.”

“I’m sure our cat, Kitty Riffs, would prefer the one with crème de violette,” said Mrs K R. “It’s her favorite color—PURRple.”

“In any case, they both have a bit of a kick,” I said. “So we better limit ourselves to one round.”

“Yup,” said Mrs K R. “We don’t want to wake up in a purple haze.”

You may also enjoy reading about:
Harvard Cocktail
Aviation Cocktail
Opera Cocktail
Bridal Cocktail
Last Word Cocktail
Cocktail Basics
Or check out the index for more

100 comments:

  1. This is just a fun post! Love the idea of a purple-blue drink. Now to find ingredients. You've never steered me wrong. Kitty Riffs????????

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    1. Hi Claudia, we call all of our cats Kitty RIffs when it comes to the blog. :-) This is a good drink -- bet you'll like it. Thanks for the comment.

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  2. I love anything with Creme de Violette and this looks like winner! Something about that purple color screams sophistication and that taste....... Thanks for sharing a great recipe.

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    1. Kim, the purple color is the color of the medieval French kings: -) indeed, it's conveying sophistication.
      Love Creme de Violete!

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    2. Hi Kim, isn't that color great? And the flavor is wonderful! Thanks for the comment.

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    3. Hi La Torontoise, those French kings sure knew how to live. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  3. What a beautiful drink! Perfect for a girls weekend.

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    1. Hi Pam, isn't this pretty? Tastes pretty, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  4. Love, love, love the color. the list of ingredients feels like it all over the place, I would have to taste to judge. but now I want to get my hands on Crème Yvette now.

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    1. Hi Evelyne, isn't this color great? And the flavor of this drink works. Without the maraschino liqueur, it's really just another version of the martini, so do try it with the maraschino if you can. Thanks for the comment.

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  5. I think that is the most beautiful cocktail I've ever seen! I've never heard of Creme Yvette or creme de violette but I am happy to have learned about them. Cheers, Rocquie

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    1. Hi Rocquie, doesn't this look great? Neither of those two liqueurs are all that popular, but they deserve do be. As does this drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  6. OH John I have to try this just because it's my favorite color. This is so beautiful! I literally have zero of these ingredients except for the lemon. I can't wait to try this. I wonder if I can get small bottles to create my own sample. LOVE THIS!!!

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    1. Hi Vicki, you can get small bottles of gin, but probably not the other ingredients. I'd suggest going to a restaurant that has a good bar, and ordering one there to see if you like it. If they don't know the recipe (they very well may not), just show them this post. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  7. I actually have both of the key ingredients and I'm a blue girl so this is Purrfect! Does this mean you are a grad of Yale?

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    1. Hi Abbe, nope, not a Yalie, but I know a purrfect drink when I see one. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  8. Hi John, love the color of this drink and that you have a Kitty Riff.

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    1. Hi Cheri, Kitty Riffs rules our life! Thanks for the comment.

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  9. I adore that color. Definitely need to track down all the ingredients!

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    1. Hi Debra, isn't that a neat color? You do need to track down the ingredients. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. What a beautiful color of a drink! This beautiful drink plus a beautiful lady to drink it then man craziness will erupt. :) Thank you, John! :)

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    1. Hi Ray, this is a gorgeous drink. Even though it does promote man craziness. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  11. A beautiful drink with an amazing color. Kitty Riffs - too funny! Thanks for always making me smile!

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    1. Hi Tricia, Kitty Riffs approves of this drink's color. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  12. Hi John , what a beautiful color for a delightful drink , in time to add to my holiday cocktail list , Pinning . have fun :) Nee
    PS: John , I have a Pinterest Cocktail board ... thanks to you . Thanks again .

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    1. Hi Nee, I'll have to check out your new Pinterest Cocktail board! Thanks for the comment.

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  13. This is too pretty for words, John! You come up with the best and most interesting cocktails!

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    1. Hi Scott, doesn't this look great? Thanks for that very kind comment.

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  14. Wow -- I'd make this just for the striking color. What an eye-catching cocktail. It would be so great for a party. It would put everyone in a festive mood just like that.

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    1. Hi Carolyn, this one is definitely a dazzler. Great idea to make a big pitcher of these for a party! Thanks for the comment.

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  15. Crème Yvette - that's a new one. In fact, I've never seen a purple drink before. It certainly is a lovely cocktail! Great for foodtball season and being an LSU fan, purple fits right in. :) Thanks for another interesting cocktail John!

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    1. Hi MJ, purple is such a pretty color in drinks! I'm sure you can make a variation of this for LSU. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  16. Now I'm wondering whether my university had a college cocktail---all I remember was the beer! What a gorgeous color, but not sure if I'd be a fan of a violet liqueur but I'd certainly give it a shot!

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    1. Hi Liz, nobody could afford cocktails when I was in college! So it was definitely beer. The flavor and aroma of the violet isn't too overwhelming, but you'll definitely notice it. Thanks for the comment.

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  17. WHOA!!!!!! THAT PURPLE! I am so attracted.

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    1. Hi GiGi, this drink really is a charmer, isn't it? Such gorgeous great looks! Thanks for the comment.

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  18. Purple is my color!! Love the look of this. I tried to make a purple drink once and it turned out brown LOL I'll have to try yours.

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    1. Hi Ashley, it's easiest to make a puplish drink if most of the ingredients are clear. ;-) This is a good one -- worth a try. Thanks for the comment.

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  19. The color takes my breath away. I'd want it just because it's beautiful!

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    1. Hi Maureen, that's a good color, isn't it? I love it! Thanks for the comment.

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  20. Dear John,
    What a gorgeous color..love that purple hue! Even though I don't drink..I love your posts, I get such wonderful interesting facts on them..So, because purple is a favorite color of mine, I will give it that college try!! Rah, Rah, Sis Boom Bah! Great post, superb info! Have a fabulous rest of the week..say hello to Mrs. Riffs...
    Dottie :)

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    1. Hi Dottie, boola, boola! :-) We got interested in cocktails just because we found the history so interesting. Didn't drink them for years -- just read about them. Of course now we drink them. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  21. This cocktail looks like the right thing to entertain the guests. I have never come across this cocktail in India, so would love to try that.

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    1. Hi Purabi, this is a pretty drink, isn't it? Not well known, but worth getting to know! Thanks for the comment.

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  22. I went to a Quaker college. I'm sure there is no school cocktail, but they did serve beer in front of the library every Thursday. :) The color of this drink is fantastic. Your liquor cabinet must be incredible!

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    1. Hi Lydia, our liquor cabinet is ridiculous -- we enjoy experimenting, so we buy new ingredients. And never finish them! So we have all of these partially empty bottles around. :-( Thanks for the comment.

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  23. Oh what a delightful color! And I had no clue "Shaking can introduce small bubbles, which make a drink cloudy" - I assumed that drinks were either shaken or stirred depending on their ingredients not appearance! Gosh - I always seem to learn something new and get a good laugh when I visit y'all

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    1. Hi Shashi, well that's the "rule" between shaking and stirring. We often break it! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  24. The color of this drink is stunning! I would be very interested to try it and see what the violet flavor is all about.

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    1. Hi Laura, the color really is wonderful, isn't it? And the flavor is extremely nice too! Thanks for the comment.

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  25. You do come up with the prettiest cocktails. I'd love to see your liquor cabinet as you always have something new for us.

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    1. Hi Karen, we have way too much stuff in our liquor cabinet! Keep buying new things to try new drinks, and never finish the bottles. Really need to make an effort to do that. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  26. This is my mom's favorite color and she loves drinking cocktails (I got my dad's gene in terms of alcohol). She'd love this! I might get drunk in a few minutes with this drink, but I do enjoy the story behind the cocktails. You write the most interesting stories about cocktailsl. :)

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    1. Hi Nami, so many cocktails have such interesting stories! It's the stories that got us interested in cocktails (and the flavor keeps us interested!). Thanks for the comment.

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  27. I thought you were a Harvard man! Having read this I now realize that you are a Gin man. I have some Yvette that I bought when I couldn't find Violette. GREG

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    1. Hi Greg, definitely a gin man! Because we do things to extreme, we have both Yvette and Violette -- but really just one is all you need. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  28. What a lovely history there is to this cocktail. I do like reading the history behind the cocktails you present. I'd love to see the blue version. I'm quite sure I've never had a purrr-ple drink. I do like how it's violet flavoured - I'd love to give this a try xx

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    1. Hi Charlie, the violet flavor is subtle, but it is there. This really is a fun drink! Thanks for the comment.

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  29. Hail to Yale in their violet blue drink! This drink is stunning. Great little history on this cocktail and I am certain that you must do lots more research to check out the rivals cocktails!!! wink wink... Looking forward to more fun cocktails posts. Beautiful photos! Wishing you a super weekend!

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    1. Hi Bam, research is good. :-) As we all learned in college! Thanks for the comment.

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  30. What a nice color this drink has .... Anything from Colorado soon? ;)

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    1. Hi Amira, I'm not sure if I know a Colorado drink. Time for research! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  31. That's an oddly beautiful cocktail: who would have thought Yale would have their own drink? I had no idea. Although honestly, if I were Yale, i feel like i'd call my signature cocktail the Whifffenpoof, just because. Or if YOU were in charge, perhaps the Riffenpoof? :)

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    1. Hi Shannon, definitely the Riffenproof if I was in charge. We should all be glad I'm not. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  32. This is gorgeous! You sure know how to make a nice drink!

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    1. Hi Cathleen, isn't this pretty? Thanks for that very kind comment.

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    1. Hi Peachy, the color is outstanding, isn't it? As is the flavor! Thanks for the comment.

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  34. From Harvard to Yale. Genius! ;)

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    1. Hi Lux, hard to do one without doing the other! Thanks for the comment.

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  35. Nice! I've never ever heard of a violet liquer. It sounds so intriguing though! This would be a good Halloween drink with it's purple color!

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    1. Hi Amy, never thought of this drink for Halloween before, but you're right -- it'd be excellent for that. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  36. I always look forward to reading your posts, John. What a perfectly gorgeous drink! This would be fun for a night with the girls or served at the most elegant of affairs. It was always a dream of mine to go to Harvard or Yale so I can sip and pretend, lol.
    Thanks for the giggles. Beautiful photography as always :)

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    1. Hi Robyn, isn't this pretty? And I don't know why I didn't think of it, but it's a perfect "girl's" drink! Thanks for the comment.

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  37. PS...may I include this in this week's Tuesday Tidbits? Love it.

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    1. Hi Robyn, of course! I'd be honored. :-)

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  38. Wow just look at the colour of that cocktail, never seen one of those before

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    1. Hi Raymund, isn't this color terrific? Really different. Thanks for the comment.

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  39. What a gorgeous drink! I love how you include so much information about the ingredients and the history behind the recipe! I'm going to have to stock up my liquor cabinet so I can give some of these wonderful cocktails a try :)

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    1. Hi Marcelle, this is really a fun drink! Definitely worth a try. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  40. Wow, beautiful color of this drink, John! Nice job ;)

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    1. Hi Kristi, I think this is one of the prettiest drinks I know. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  41. Wow! I love the color of this drink and i love the college cocktail names you've been giving the drinks! :)

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    1. Hi Vicky & Ruth, isn't the color great? And so interesting that some colleges have drinks named after them! Thanks for the comment.

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  42. I've never had a violet liqueur, and now I'm so curious! What a great color. It's a beauty of a cocktail.

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    1. Hi Lisa, this really is a beauty -- such a pretty drink! Thanks for the comment.

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  43. Looks way too pretty to drink, John. Utterly gorgeous :)

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    1. Hi Kiran, it's a nice one, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.

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  44. Another beautiful cocktail with gin...one of my favorite...the color is so enticing....absolutely gorgeous!
    Enjoy your week John :)

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    1. Hi Juliana, we like gin cocktails too! And you can't beat this color. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  45. I love the color of this drink. I always love the history that you share for each of your cocktails. I love the dialogue between you and Mrs. K R.

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    1. Hi Dawn, we really enjoy writing those dialogues! And they're pretty much how we typically talk. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  46. Oh wow! What a cocktail! I love the color and the history!

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    1. Hi Marcela, isn't the color something else? Really pretty! Thanks for the comment.

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  47. Boy do I miss visiting your site and learning all about each cocktail. My publishing life has kept me away, but here I am today. Wow, I had no idea there was a violet liquor. The drink sounds interesting, and the color alone is stunning! I hope you are doing well, Hugs, Terra

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    1. Hi Terra, hope your romance books are doing well! This is a fun drink -- bet you'd like it. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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    1. Hi Lizzy, isn't this color great? Flavor is, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  49. I'm not sure if my favorite thing about site is the emphasis given to cocktail recipes, or the extensive notes you provide. I have no idea, btw, what violet tastes like (except while under the influence of hallucinagens, of course, but that's probably unreliable).

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    1. Hi Jeff, :-) The cocktail recipes are tons of fun, aren't they? Thanks for the comment.

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