Monday, 24 December 2012

Purl, London

Watching a food programme a couple of weeks ago, there was a cocktail section and one drink in particular made me sit up and take notice. This cocktail was called the "Aviation", it contained a liqueur called Creme de Violette.
Now if this cocktail had a hint of the sweets I used to love as a kid "Parma Violets" then this was the drink for me!

The barman was Tristan Stephenson co owner of a cocktail bar called Purl in London where this section was filmed. I loved everything about the look of his bar and the type of drinks he was making.

This is no ordinary cocktail bar, Purl offers to invite you to a multi sensory experience by bringing the drinks to life and transport the guest to another place or time by playing with all your five senses, taste, touch, smell, sight and sound.

Purl's website says of their cocktail list:
    This is not a simple or elegant cocktail list.
    Be prepared for a sensory overload.
    Some of these cocktails are not suitable for those of a sensitive disposition.
    If you don't like fire, liquid nitrogen and loud noises, you will not like this.
    Some of these drinks include bells, whistles, steel drums and very big gongs.
    Don't say we didn't warn you.....

Now this was a red rag to a very thirsty inquisitive bull !
I loved the fact this was one of the classics but to my knowledge a rare one. You hardly ever see it on a cocktail menu and there is no mention of it in the several cocktail books I own. ( update, now in 2013 it has been making an appearance especially in speakeasy style bars)

So I searched the Internet for it's origin.
It seems it can be traced back to 1916 it appeared in a book called recipes for mixed drinks and was the creation of head bartender Hugo Enslin at the Hotel Wallick in New York.
Enslin mixed Two parts Gin to one part lemon juice, with two dashes each of Maraschino and creme de violette liqueurs giving it a slight blue hue.

I wonder if Enslin had in mind early pioneers of Aviation, the likes of the Wright brothers when he created his cocktail? After reading much about this drink it certainly conjures up images for me of an era when it was glamorous to fly.

But there are many versions of this drink minus the creme de violette there is some confusion as whether this was due to the lack of creme de violette during the prohibition in 1920s and 1930s?
Today Creme De Violette more widely available and made by many different Liqueur producers. You won't however find this down your local off licence or see it on supermarket shelves. Hunting a bottle of this beautiful purple liqueur can be found in specialist drink suppliers on line. One such company I find brilliant is The Whiskey exchange company.

The Aviation is now available as it should be with that beautiful blue hue. That said looking at many images and reading much it seems mixologists still argue over the proportions of it's ingredients.

I was paying a visit to London last weekend so I just had to pay a visit to Purl, as for me this was my first introduction to this drink so it seemed right and fitting i should try it here.

Purl is based on the US Speakeasy movement with the modern twist of molecular mixology now if this doesn't interest you I don't know what will?
My inquisitiveness led me to research molecular mixology and through the wonders of Youtube I watched Tristan mix some drinks with fascination. One other drink caught my eye it was called Mr Hyde's fixer upper, that was also target drink number Two, more of that later.

Arriving at Purl really does have that early victoriana feel about it, a basement bar full of nooks and crannies adorned with antiques and nicknack's. I particularly loved the huge clear ice block on the back shelf of the bar from which the ice is chipped off for your drinks.

Purl is in the basement Of 50/54 Blandford street

We arrived 5 Min's after opening as we wanted ring side seats (at the bar) a small four seater affair but this is where you see all the magic happen.

On arrival and without even glancing at the cocktail menu we ordered the Aviation and a Mr Hyde's fixer upper.

The Aviation
Was good but it lacked the colour I was after and taste I imagined it to be, it seems even in the same bar it's made differently from bar tender to bar tender. On the TV appearance Tristan used 50 mil of Tanquery Gin, 15ml of Bitter truth violette liqueur,10ml Luxardo mariccino liqueur and 25ml lemon juice. Watching the mixologist make my Aviation he only put a bar spoon of violette liqueur in which holds 5ml. This made for a very pale drink, and it was minus the cherry ! they had run out ! it was still good but I epected some sort of floral note, I couldn't detect this probably down to the small amount of violette.

Not too worry I had pre bought the ingredients necessary to make this drink at home so I would make this using the amounts I had seen Tristan use.

The Aviation at Purl minus the cherry !

The Mr Hyde's fixer upper.
This was one of those drinks that looks so interesting you want one before you even know what's in it ! Underneath all the drama and dry ice is a smokey rum based cocktail in fact the longer you leave the drink in its sealed bottle the smokier it tastes.

To watch Tristan make this drink, click here.

Another neat and quirky thing about drinking at Purl is your drinks come with these little sandwiches that act as a palate cleanser.

Once home I made an Aviation using Tristans Measurements, this to me certainly makes a more atractive looking drink !

I'll take mine Blue !

Avaition made at home

Stay Connected With Free Updates!

To get every new Eat Slurp Burp post delivered to your inbox

No comments:

Post a Comment