This Water Lily Cocktail variation is a beautiful drink with a floral sweetness more subtle than other crème de violette cocktails. While it has the same gin, orange liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice, the proportions of this Water Lily are more consistent with the sour cocktail family to give better balance. It’s the perfect crème de violette cocktail for those of us who don’t love an Aviation.
Read on to learn all about crème de violette and tips and tricks for making this cocktail. Or just grab your cocktail shaker, hit that Jump to Recipe button, and let’s make a Water Lily!
The original Water Lily is a crème de violette cocktail with equal amounts of gin, orange liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice. This Water Lily variation turns down the floral notes that are overwhelming to some:
- Gin: different gins have unique botanical profiles. I recommend using a London dry gin like Tanqueray or Beefeater, but you can use a botanical gin like Empress 1908 gin to deepen the purple color.
- Orange liqueur – use a triple sec like Cointreau for the Water Lily. You can read a quick bit about orange liqueurs in my Blue Mojito post.
- Crème de violette – please use one naturally flavored with violet flowers.
- Lemon juice: use freshly squeezed lemon juice for best flavor.
Crème de violette
Crème de violette is a violet-flavored liqueur made using brandy or a neutral spirit. I recommend the version made by Rothman and Winter (pictured above) with real violet blossoms and no added vanilla.
Crème de violette cocktails can be a bit over-powering for some. But if you’re someone who loves floral flavors, check out other floral cocktails like my lavender gimlet, rose syrup French 75, or Elderflower Collins or floral bakes like an Earl Grey and lavender-flavored cake or these lemon lavender cookies.
Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Substitutions and variations
- Adjust the sweetness to taste: If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, you can increase the amount of orange liqueur or add a touch of simple syrup.
- If you really like a sweet, floral cocktail, try the Water Lily in the original proportions, with three-quarters of an ounce of each ingredient.
- Add an egg white and do a dry shake first, like in this Frangelico sour.
- Make homemade crème de violette.
- Make an Aviation cocktail or sub in crème de violette for the liqueur in this passion fruit spritz.
Water Lily origin
The Water Lily Cocktail is a contemporary classic created by New York bartender Richard Boccaro not quite 20 years ago. The Water Lily is a variation of the Corpse Reviver No. 2 (pictured below) which has equal parts of gin, orange liqueur, Lillet Blanc, and lemon juice, plus a swirl of absinthe.
Recipe tips and tricks
The Water Lily is not a complicated cocktail to make. Use a jigger or other measuring tool to ensure accurate proportions for the best-tasting cocktail.
Add your ingredients to a cocktail shaker packed with ice and double strain into a chilled coupe. Double straining helps keep any bits of lemon or ice shards from your cocktail.
Garnish your Water Lily with an orange twist or edible flower. Enjoy!
Tip from the wise quacker: The general teaching is that cocktails with citrus juices should be shaken, but cocktails with only alcohols should be stirred.
You should be able to find crème de violette in specialty liquor stores. Alternatively, for crème de violette substitute you might be able to find Parfait Amour or Crème d’Yvette, both of which are made with violet blossoms but also fruit and vanilla. The flavor profile of your Water Lily drink may differ slightly.
In the French, this would be pronounced as “krem duh vee-oh-let.” That’s not exactly right, but it should get you close enough!
Many water lily species are edible, but I’d recommend garnishing your Water Lily using lilies, violets, or other edible flowers specifically grown for culinary purposes.
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
Water Lily Cocktail
- 1 Cocktail shaker
- 1½ ounces dry gin e.g. Tanqueray or Beefeater
- 1 ounce triple sec liqueur e.g. Cointreau
- ½ ounce crème de violette
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- orange twist or edible flower for garnish
- Start by chilling your cocktail glass. You can do this by filling a martini glass or coupe with ice cubes and allowing it to sit while you prepare the cocktail.
- In a cocktail shaker, add the gin, orange liqueur, crème de violette, and fresh lemon juice and ice cubes.1½ ounces dry gin, 1 ounce triple sec liqueur, ½ ounce crème de violette, ½ ounce lemon juice
- Shake for about 20 seconds and double strain into the empty glass, using a fine-mesh strainer to catch any lemon bits or ice shards.
- Garnish with an orange twist or edible flower. Enjoy!orange twist or edible flower
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