This classic drink has rare flavor
Ready to howl? We’ve got a cocktail for that.
May 21st marks the arrival of a blue moon (more on that later). So let’s celebrate! And what better way to toast the occasion than with the event’s namesake drink?
The aromatic Blue Moon Cocktail has just a hint of sweetness, but not too much. Which makes it a perfect pre-dinner libation.
So reach for the moon.
Recipe: The Blue Moon Cocktail
There are several versions of the Blue Moon Cocktail. But the most common iteration contains gin, Crème Yvette or crème de violette, and lemon juice. If you want to be extra fancy, you can add egg white to the mix (it gives the drink a nice, frothy texture).
We like Ted Haigh’s recipe, which we found in his Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. His version is the one we use here.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one.
- 2 ounces dry gin (see Notes)
- ½ ounce Crème Yvette or crème de violette (see Notes)
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 egg white (very optional; we generally don’t use this)
- garnish of lemon twist or wedge (optional)
- Add all ingredients (except garnish) to a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake hard until the contents of the shaker are frosty (about 20 seconds).
- Strain into a cocktail glass, preferably one that has been chilled. Garnish, if desired, and serve.
- If you’re making this drink with egg white, you might want to start by putting the egg white in the shaker by itself, without ice (shaking it sans ice helps develop frothiness). Shake the egg white for 30 seconds. Then add ice and proceed with Step 1.
- There’s another drink called the Blue Devil that’s actually the same as the Blue Moon. We have no idea how that drink came to be, or how the name came about.
- The origins of the Blue Moon are also obscure. But we do know that it was the house cocktail at Joel’s Green Room in New York City before Prohibition (and even during Prohibition too, it seems). Joel’s, a restaurant close to Times Square, was a hangout for actors, artists, writers, and newspaper people.
- A close cousin of the Blue Moon is the Aviation Cocktail, which differs by using maraschino as the liqueur component.
- Originally, the Blue Moon Cocktail was made with Crème Yvette, a purple-hued, violet-flavored liqueur. When Crème Yvette went out of production in the late 1960s, bartenders started using crème de violette (also violet-flavored, as the name suggests). It makes an admirable substitute.
- Crème Yvette is back on the market now. But some brands of the liqueur sport a color that is more reddish than purple, which gives the wrong hue to this drink.
- Some versions of the Blue Moon substitute dry vermouth for lemon juice, and add a couple dashes of orange bitters.
- When a cocktail recipe specifies gin, it’s usually understood to mean dry gin. “London” dry gin is the most common style (it originally was distilled in London), but there are other styles of dry gin that are fairly similar (Plymouth gin, for example). Don’t stress about whether a particular gin is London dry. Just buy a decent dry gin with a name label.
- So what exactly is the lunar event known as a “blue moon”? Basically, it’s the occurrence of an “extra” full moon during a calendar year. Because the moon’s cycle is a bit less than 30 days long, a full moon occasionally can come around 13 times during a calendar year, instead of the usual 12.
- When a year contains a blue moon, one of its seasons will have four full moons, instead of just three. Originally, the term “blue moon” referred to this seasonal extra full moon (specifically, it referred to the third of four full moons that occur in such a season). More recently, the term has also come to mean the occurrence a second full moon in a single calendar month.
- The next blue moon, on May 21st, will be a seasonal one (i.e., the third of four full moons between spring equinox and summer solstice). After this month’s blue moon, the next seasonal one won’t occur until May 18, 2019.
- The next arrival of a “calendar” blue moon (i.e., the second full moon in one calendar month) will occur on January 31, 2018. In fact, 2018 will see two such blue moons – a very rare occurrence. There will be no full moon in February of that year.
- BTW, the term “blue moon” has nothing to do with the moon’s actual color. Though sometimes the moon does have a slightly bluish tinge, that’s usually caused by atmospheric conditions such as the presence of volcanic ash or other particles in the air.
“Lovely,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, taking a sip. “I could moon over this drink.”
“It’s blue chip,” I agreed.
“Haven’t had a cocktail this good in many moons,” said Mrs K R.
“Shall we have another?” I said. “Or is that asking for the moon?”
“That idea came out of the blue,” said Mrs K R. “Not.”
She pushed her glass towards me. “OK, but this one will put us over the moon.”
Or maybe we’ll start moonwalking.
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