My First Cocktail Review: Dirty Pernicious Flower

Feb 12, 2022 by Amber McClain Shaw, in Blog Posts

1. Follow the recipe I send you, no matter how obscure, exotic, difficult to find, or expensive the ingredients.

2. Have your drink made and ready to sip.

3. Be on the zoom call 5 pm sharp.

These are the rules of my mom’s Friday night zoom happy hour.

The recipe for a recent Friday intrigued me. I don't like most cocktails, usually preferring a glass of wine, but decided I would try this one.

The drink was called a Dirty Flower. The most compelling reason to make this drink was the ingredient called crème de Violette. It’s an amazing purple color and my mom said it did really taste like flowers. So naturally, I had to try it.

I found it after an extensive search of the flowery fruity botanical crème section of the very large alcoholic beverage store in my city, which is mostly dedicated to wine but has everything else as well.

The liqueur was a beautiful color and not inexpensive, which could be a good sign.

This cocktail recipe called for bourbon, cherry syrup, and fresh lemon. I found the least chemical-containing cocktail cherries I could find, also not cheap, exported from Italian orchards. I bought organic lemons. I was ready.

Mixing up exactly one recipe of this drink, the hue was not the clear violet color I expected, but the muddy red color of the Italian cherry syrup.

The first sip: bourbon was the main flavor point, with a kick of sickly sweet boozy cherry Nyquil, punched up with acidity from the lemon. The violet taste and aroma were lost or perhaps were never there.

I continued to sip, thinking the cocktail would grow on me or would reveal the essence of flowers, the herbaceous perfume I was expecting.

It completely slipped my mind that purple is the color of poison in many traditional legends and literature. Cleopatra, Shakespeare, and many others understood the toxicity and symbolism of hemlock, Devil’s trumpet, foxglove, and periwinkle, all purple flowers.

As I sipped, on an empty stomach, at 5 pm on Friday, and finished the drink, my husband arrived home. I feel I accurately informed him he would not like the drink, so I did not make another. He poured a glass of wine for himself, and I had one too.

Unfortunately, the rest of the evening was a total blur. The drink hit me like a hammer. Dinner was not made. I think we ranged for leftovers in the refer. I may or may not have eaten any, I’m not sure. I was in bed very early.

I was not in a sexy haze of violet after consuming this drink. EDVARD MUNCH, MERMAID, 1896

After a terrible night of sleep I woke up, if I was in fact asleep, and felt unwell. Due to circumstances I cannot go into here, I had no clean clothes in which to dress myself, so my husband and I went to the laundromat, where  I was quite content to watch $20 worth of quarters spit out of the change machine and the four loads of laundry spinning in mesmerizing waterfalls of colors in the dryers.

I cannot recommend this Dirty Flower cocktail recipe, more accurately called Pernicious Flower. I would make some changes. Eliminate the bourbon and cherry syrup. Take the lemon juice, put it in a large glass of cold water, and drink it. Sip the violet liquor, or even better, just smell it and enjoy the luminescent purple color from a safe distance.