There was a hot moment a few weeks ago where I turned into a hoarder.
The Total Wine store near my house was in the middle of an extreme floor move, which made merchandise hard to locate in the first place. But even after I was standing facing the liqueurs, I couldn’t see crème de violette, which is an essential ingredient in an Aviation, one of my favorite cocktails.
The Aviation is an easy drink to make—gin, lemon juice, Maraschino liqueur and crème de violette—but crème de violette is one of those liqueurs that hardly ever gets used, so many bars don’t stock it. I’m always delighted to find the Aviation on a cocktail menu, or to spot the bottle of Rothman & Winter on the shelves; I made fast friends with a bartender at Firefly in Washington, D.C., who knows the guys who helped import the brand to the United States in 2007—the only crème de violette widely available in this country.
“I think it’s been discontinued,” said the sales associate I enlisted for help.
Before the craft cocktail industry took off, a company called Modern Spirits had created flavored vodkas that went far beyond the standard lemon, raspberry and orange— think celery peppercorn, lavender pear, or my favorite, candied ginger, which I fell in love with the first time I had it in a lemon drop at Zen 32. I was bereft when the company closed, and mourned the lack of opportunity to stock up on the candied ginger vodka before it disappeared.
Was the same thing about to happen with crème de violette? Total Wine’s website revealed no inventory in the Phoenix area—a bad omen—so I began stock-stalking the area BevMo stores. Only three stores had any crème de violette in their inventory, so when I saw two bottles were available in Scottsdale, I bought them online instantly, then jumped in the car to pick them up.
The next weekend, I drove 52 miles to pick up three bottles in Peoria. Sure, I felt dumb when the store manager there told me that the brand hadn’t been discontinued, but a quick perusal today of BevMo’s site reveals only one bottle available anywhere in the state right now. Even if the issue is one of scarcity, not extinction, I’m happy that I stocked up when I could.
By the way, there was an upside to the closing of Modern Spirits: Determined to replicate the flavored vodka that was no longer available for purchase, I bought a giant jar and went to work infusing vodka myself. In the years since, the experiments have led to delicious results like star anise gin, watermelon Jolly Rancher vodka, rock and rye toddy, cherry bourbon and jalepeño tequila.
|WHAT SAM WORE: 6/7/15|
|The shirt: Domo T-shirt from Target.|
|The shorts: Knee-length cotton shorts from the Calvin Klein outlet at Anthem.|
|The shoes: L.A. Runner sneakers by Adidas, from Sports Authority.|