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.
You may also enjoy reading about:
The Hearn's Cocktail
Last Word Cocktail
Or check out the index for more
This is so beautiful, John! Love the blue/purple colour! I think it's very appropriate for today... May the 4th and all, something out of this world :)
Hi Nazneen, isn't this a great looking drink? And the flavor is wonderful! This is out of this world -- perfect for Star Wars Day! Thanks for the comment.
Well I learned what a blue moon was today, cool fact! And wow on this drink, I wish I had one right now. i will have to go hunt for Crème Yvette, I have never seen anything like it from memory at the liquor store. Looks so good John!
It's beautiful John. I've made this cocktail, thanks for the reminder because I loved it too!
I truly enjoyed reading all about the blue moon. My mom and I are both big fans of the moon, but I didn't know the reasoning behind it. Thank you for all the information! As well as a beautiful cocktail!
Wow this is beautiful John and my favorite color. What exactly does it taste like, unless I missed that part of your post? I'd like to try making this one.
I had no idea there was a creme de violette which gives this cocktail such a pretty color. Well, cheers to you and your gorgeous drinks.
Hi Evelyne, it isn't every day that we get a blue moon! SO excited. :-) More excited about this drink, actually -- it's really good! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Barb, now that you mention it, I remember you making this several years ago! Really good, isn't it? A new favorite around here. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, isn't this pretty? You and your mom will have to make one to celebrate the blue moon on the 21st! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Vicki, the flavor of this is a very smooth, slightly sweet floral martini with distinct lemon tones. It's the floral aspect of it that always wows me -- really nice. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, don't you love the color? And it drinks better than it looks! Thanks for the comment.
John, you make the most beautiful cocktails! This is just gorgeous, nice photos :)
Hi Pat, thanks for that very kind comment!
Not only nice to look at, but sounds tasty to drink. I think this would be a super hit no matter the phase of the moon. Thanks for sharing.
What a beautiful drink. Blue moons have always sounded rare and romantic to me. Definitely deserving of the is exquisite cocktail.
Hi SG, this is definitely wonderful to drink no matter what the lunar cycle! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Karen, blue moons are fairly rare, so always exciting when one occurs. This drink won't be rare around our house, though! Thanks for the comment.
Now I'm humming the song "Blue Moon ... you saw me standing alone... " Great song and beautiful drink! I can't get over this gorgeous color. Another winner!
That's a great summary of the various meanings of the "blue moon" including the calendar meanings and the drink meanings!
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
After hearing the cliche "Once in a Blue Moon" most of my life, I finally had to find out exactly what that meant. When I did, the moon girl in me was quite pleased. I enjoy a bit of rarity once in a blue moon, lol...
I'm sure I would be happy to toast the Blue Moon with this Blue Moon Cocktail John. I too haven't spotted Crème Yvette in the local liquor store but, that doesn't mean it isn't there. I'll be on the lookout my next trip.
Thanks so much for sharing, John...
P.S. If I had to guess, I have a feeling the Blue Devil Cocktail probably involves a pepper of sorts, perhaps a hot one, lol...
Hi Tricia, this really does have outstanding color. Sorry about the ear worm! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mae, blue moons are pretty rare, but with this drink not so much anymore -- at least not at our house! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Louise, no pepper in the Blue Devil, but there should be! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have said this before and I will say it again, your photography is UNREAL! I can't even. And this drink is stunning! Restaurants should hire you to do their drink photography! ;)
Hi Gigi, isn't this a wonderful looking drink? Thanks for that very kind comment.
Hi John, always learning something new, love the color!
Gorgeous! And such fun trivia about the blue moon :)
Hi Cheri, fun to learn new stuff, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, really love the color of this one! Thanks for the comment.
This drink looks so good! I love the color and I may probably would like this one, but without the egg white. The info that you gave on this drink The Blue Moon, I never knew. I always learn so much from your facts..Thanks for sharing this with all of us..Enjoy the rest of the week and the weekend.
Hugs Dottie :)
Hi Dottie, neat color, huh? And the egg white does add a little, but just a little. It's rare that we'd use it. Thanks for the comment.
Gorgeous cocktail John! Pinned.
Hi Lea Ann, isn't this nice? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Wow. That is the prettiest drink I've ever seen! Probably because purple is favorite color!!!
Hi Mimi, it is a striking looking drink, isn't it? And tastes really, really good! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such a pretty drink! Looks magical :-)
I've never been a fan of gin but this drink is too pretty not to try!
Hi Mary, it IS magical! :-) Thanks for the comment. :-)
Hi Pam, you do taste the gin in this drink, but really taste the other ingredients more. Definitely worth a try! Thanks for the comment.
One of these days, I'm having a cocktail party made up exclusively of the drinks you present here. What a phenomenal resource of interesting mixes!
You're always able to find the right cocktail for even the most obscure events. :) This sure is a beautiful drink. Never having tasted crème de violette, I can say if I would like the flavor or not, but just the color makes me want to give it a try. Thanks John!
Hi Jeff, that'll be a great party! You'll invite all of us, of course? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, it's worth picking up a bottle. You could always go to a decent bar and have them mix you one just to see if you'd actually like it. But I think you'd like it, so just go ahead and splurge and buy a bottle! Thanks for the comment.
I feel this strong urge to sing "Purple Rain" for some reason! Wow what a stunner of a cocktail. Looks like the perfect weekend drink to view the sunsets over the China Sea... What do you think? BTW, what is the purpose of the egg whites in the drink again? Very interesting...
A rare flavor and a rare color! Should be called the elizabeth taylor for her violet eyes (I'm so old, I know!). I had never heard of creme de violette before.
What a brilliant colour, perfect for summer sipping.
Hi Bobbi, in a drink an egg white gives a really smooth mouthfeel and a nice frothiness to the drink. You don't taste egg at all. And yes, I thought Purple Rain too! This is perfect sunset drink! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Paula, forgot about Taylor's eyes! They were wonderful, weren't they? As is this drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carolyn, this really is pretty, isn't it? And tasty! Thanks for the comment.
Well, now I'm looking forward to May 21st! What a great-looking cocktail. Sounds delicious with the lemon too.
Hi Lisa, we're looking forward to the 21st too! Probably have one of these. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm totally trying this with the egg white and I love the color of th is drink so much!
Now I'm marking my calendar for 1/31/18. And I'll make this drink to celebrate. Manservant had made this before and the Aviation and both are so good. It might be a blue moon before he is here to make it again!
Hi Abbe, we'll be drinking this every blue moon from now on! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ashley, the drink IS slightly nicer with the egg white. Good choice! :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a lovely cocktail, another one to add to my list. Great information about the Blue Moon... although I was hoping to see an actual moon coloured blue one day :-(
Hi Julie, I suspect at some point we'll see an actual blue moon. I'd like to see one too! Thanks for the comment.
Another beautiful cocktail!! I love the color on this, John. So springy :)
Hi Kiran, isn't this nice? And yes, very springy. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a pretty drink. I love your cocktail photos. I have found a new source to purchase smaller bottles to experiment before I invest in big-o-bottles.
Have a good weekend.
Hi Madonna, really good idea to get small bottles to see what you like! Those big-o-bottles (love the term!) can be expensive. Thanks for the comment.
You really like your cocktails, you are one of the few blogs that has a drink posted often. I like that. :-) Love the color! I need to post some that I like.
Hi Honey, cocktails are fun! We usually post once a month, except during the summer -- when we do more. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi John , what a beautiful drink , hopefully I will be back soon .
Happy Mother's Day to Mrs. KR .
Hi Nee, isn't this nice? Hope to see you blogging again soon! Happy Mother's Day, and thanks for the comment.
Just LOVE the color of this cocktail, John. And I love these kinds of vintage libations. I have a whole bottle of crème de violette from when I made the aviation cocktail. So I am definitely going to give this one a try. Minus the egg white I think....I have a mental block about that! : )
Hi Anne, if you like the Aviation, you'll love this! Really a good drink, and wonderful color. Thanks for the comment.
Love a good aviator so will try this soon!
Hi Debra, you'll like! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love learning about these vintage cocktails, John! I'm on a goal-driven, health-kick for the rest of May, so I'm off any kind of sauce. But, this lovely drink is now on the to-do list for June evenings :)
Hi Marcelle, you have extra reason to look forward to June! :-) Congrats with the health-kick. And thanks for the comment.
Marking in my calendar and hitting up the shops to purchase mini bottles to give this beauty a whirl. Love the pretty colours and as always, your chit-chat with Mrs KR at the end. :)
Hi Anna, this beauty is definitely worth a whirl! Really tastes great. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, this looks so pretty and I am sure it is refreshing. Wish I had a sip of this.
Lacking gin one day (egads) I made a version of this drink with tequila and lime. It was a winner because the original is so solid. GREG
Hi Rahul, it's very refreshing! Definitely worth a try sometime. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Greg, out of gin? Egads, indeed! I'll have to try tequila and lime -- sounds really good. Thanks for the comment.
What a gorgeous color! I've said it before but I always love reading your conversations with Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. They put a smile on my face every time!
Hi Kristi, this has great color, doesn't it? And glad you like the conversations -- they're so much fun to write! Thanks for the comment.
Cin cin, John.
I am in love with its color! What a beautiful cocktail! I must find a blue moon now!
Hi Lizzy, this is a good one. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Katerina, isn't the color wonderful? Such a pretty drink! Thanks for the comment.
i saw this one, and I was wondering if it was creme de violette in there. When Feast did the shoot for the Easter brunch section, there was a drink floating around to coordinate with my collection, done by Matt Seiter (you have to be a huge fan of his, right? I would imagine so.) Anyway, none of us had ever had a drink with creme de violette, and we were all pleasantly surprised by the flavor: it was intriguing; not something i'd want all the time, but quite a nice flavor. Nice work!
Hi Shannon, don't know Matt personally, but certainly "know" him. He does great work. Heck, so many great bartenders in St. Louis. We like doing classic cocktails when we do drinks, but am thinking of taking a year or so to showcase all the great original drinks being created here. Anyway, this is a great drink -- worth a try. Thanks for the comment.
This cocktail looks incredible! What a stunning color! I love it :)
Hi Dana, this really is pretty, isn't it? And it's a great drink, too. Winner! :-) Thanks for the comment.
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