Arsenic and Old Lace

I missed out on this months Mixology Monday. Rather, I let it pass by, mostly because I didn't know any cream-based cocktails that I loved and felt the need to pass on. I did figure I could throw in a créme-based cocktail, but the only one I'm in love with now is the Arsenic and Old Lace, featuring the regrettably impossible to find créme de violette, which I thought might be unfair (as in, here is this great cocktail, you can't make it, neener-neener-neener.. ptttttttttt)

Paul over at Cocktail Chronicles did just that, however, and now I feel the need to share this drink, because it is truly extradordinary.

Like most cocktails I've had recently, this one was introduced to Christine and I by Ben and Murray at the Zig Zag. It's almost impossible to describe. The flavors are delicate, that is the first thing you notice, and long after you've finished it, the delicacy is the element you remember. All the flavors are there, but the violet is haunting and seductive, as if you're sipping on the essence of the flower alone.

The recipe I have comes from Cocktail DB. Not sure if this is exactly how Murray and Ben make it, as they tend to re-interpret and improve upon recipes.

Arsenic and Old Lace
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz pastis
1/2 oz créme de violette
1/4 oz dry vermouth
Stir, strain into cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist.

This is now the initial cocktail Christine orders when she sits down at the Zig Zag. Also, it is so unique and fascinating it's inspired me to try and craft some homemade violet liquer.

Too late for Mixology Monday, but if you can track down a bottle of créme de violette, or if you can find someone to bring you a bottle from Japan or France, stir one up and see for yourself.


Anonymous said...

I guess this is how variations on a theme wind up coming back to one perfect recipe. I've seen very similar recipes referred to as an Atty (with the gin base, and mere dashes of pastis, violette and vermouth, with orange bitters), then Simon Difford upped the three co-stars to 1/4 oz each status and kept the name.

Just before I came across Simon's recipe, Jamie Boudreau introduced me to the Attention while sitting at the Zig Zag one night--I think he got it from Duffy's Official Mixer's Manual, but I could be wrong about that--that originally had something like equal parts gin and vermouth, with the pastis and violette sitting at around 1/4 each (I don't have the books in front of me, but I think this is where it stood), but Jamie upped the gin to 2 oz and specified Plymouth, then knocked the other three ingredients to 1/4 oz each (specifying Herbsaint for the pastis, a move I happen to agree with), with two dashes of Regan's orange bitters to keep everybody in line.

Atty? Attention? Arsenic and Old Lace? Whatever -- it's damn good.

(Oh, and the violette? It may be here sooner than you think.)

keith waldbauer said...

Wow, thanks for the link, Paul. That'd sure save me a lot of work if it turns out as well as the Hermes. Also, been awhile since I've been to Vessel, seems like a good reason to get back there. Heading to Zig Zag tonight to remind myself of how ethereal this cocktail is, then Vessel another night to compare notes. Thanks again, Paul.


keith waldbauer said...

Oh, just looked up all three in the Jones Guide I just reviewed. All 3 are indeed listed, as you outlined, for the most part, with only a few differences.

andrewembassy said...

The one thing about this drink i find is that its really easy for the anise flavor to overpower the violette- Robert at Oliver's twist makes my favorite: a rinse with pastis, then everything else in the glass. The smoke and tart of the pastis is still there, but it compliments the violette rather than fighting with it for attention

Anonymous said...

Murry is the best. Went into Zig Zag a week before I moved out of Seattle. I asked if he can make "The Last Word" and he cocked his eyebrow and smiled. Needless to say, he mixed up a few more cocktails for my gf and friend that night and Arsenic and Old Lace was one of them. I had the best cocktails, ever. Wish I didn't move cause I will be at Zig Zag every weekend to see what Murry can mix up.

Now in NYC, the FlatIron Lounge, I found Adam, who is in awe of Murry and he mixed up some great cocktails. Great to have true Mixocologist out there.

Happy to have stumble upon your site, now I can try out Arsenic and Old Lace... and yes, I found Violette so very happy.


Anonymous said...

Gruner's restaurant in Portland, OR makes an excellent Arsenic and Old Lace with absinthe. The color is stunning; a pale lavender glow. The flavor is perfectly balanced.

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