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Saturday, August 28, 2010

ATTY Cocktail: Named after Attorneys or Teletypewriters?

Sometime in late June, the Utah Mixologist saw a mention of the ATTY cocktail (either on Twitter or in a news article) as a cocktail that contained Crème de Violette, a fresh bottle of which had recently been added to the bar.  Utahns should be aware that Crème de Violette is available in the Utah State Liquor system, unlike the still unavailable (well, you can special order a case) Maraschino Liqueur.  The name Atty was and is intriguing: is the cocktail named after the legal profession or an old-style teletypewriter?  And why is it usually, but not always, given in all caps like “ATTY?”  Some time spent with Google only revealed that no one seems to know the origin of the drink or its name, only that it can be found in the classic Savoy Cocktail Book (1930).  The Savoy has been a good source for cocktail inspiration, and readers may remember prior mention of Erik Ellestad’s blog and his project to recreate every cocktail recipe in the Savoy.  Well, Google also turned up Erik’s post on the ATTY, and it was very educational.  (Note: Erik has access to some high quality ingredients that are, sadly, unavailable in Utah, so I have not reproduced his ingredient list here.)

Not only had Erik experimented with the ATTY, but his experiments had resulted in a variation on the recipe that is a marked improvement by simply changing the Gin/Vermouth ratio from 3:1 to 2:1 (the proportions below are from Ellestad’s recipe).  An added bonus is that it’s quite easy for you to duplicate the experiment and taste the difference between the recipes.  Make the recipe below, but only use ½ ounce of Vermouth.  Strain into your cocktail glass and then pour an additional ¼ ounce of Vermouth into the mixing glass and let it set with the ice while you taste and savor the contents of your cocktail glass (the Savoy recipe).  Pretty good?  Now strain the extra ¼ ounce from the mixing glass into your cocktail glass and stir lightly with a stirrer straw to combine well.  (Note: if you’re alone, you can always pour from the cocktail glass into the mixing glass and re-strain the whole drink, but doing this while anyone else is present will not impress your guests.)  Now taste the difference: are the Absinthe and Crème de Violette making love or war? First one dominating and then the other?  Finally, bow toward San Francisco, toward where master mixologist Erik Ellestad lives.

ATTY Cocktail

1 ½ oz Dry Gin (Ellestad prefers mild and dry)
¾ oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth (see notes)
3 Dashes (½ tsp) Absinthe
3 Dashes (½ tsp) Crème de Violette

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass half full of cracked ice.  Stir until well chilled, and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.  Twist a piece of lemon peel over the glass, rub it lightly around the rim, and either drop it in the glass or drape it artfully over the rim.  Sip slowly and taste how the different flavor elements interact.  Heavenly.


  1. Unless there was a short period Crème de Violette was really available, it shows up as "S" now. I asked at my local store and they told me all special orders require ordering 12 bottles. It might as well be not available at that point.

    It looks like I'll have to continue to use my regular source.

  2. Hi Brownbag:

    As you're probably aware by now, the Utah Mixologist is a full service blog. I remembered that my wife had called me when she saw Crème de Violette (CS#908474) on the shelf one day and I had her pick a bottle up. I just called the wine store at 280 W Harris Ave (1605 S 300 W)((801) 412-9972) and they have 11 bottles in stock. Depending on when you see this comment, you might want to call ahead.

    As an FYI, I don't think that the DABC always updates item status when they change it. For example, Makers 46 is also marked as special order, but I have seen it stocked on the shelves at three different stores. What I do for hard to find items that are listed in the book is to call (I usually have better luck on the phone and at non-peak hours) one of the larger stores and ask them to check the code (code is better than item name because then they can't answer "no" off the top of their head) for me. If they don't have it I ask them to check if any other stores have it. Sometimes it works!

    I hope you get some Crème de Violette,

  3. There's been a lot of serendipity on this issue. Between making Aviations for guys and Blue Moons for the ladies, I've become known for Crème de Violette and getting bottles for a few friends. I just got a text from another friend yesterday who runs the wine program at a couple well respected restaurants. He also found the only existing case at the 300 W. store.

    I did ask at the point of the mountain store. It's pretty big, but they were hopeless when it came to help. On one hand, I already have a couple bottles in the house. OTOH, I will probably pick up a bottle, or two, for future friends that need it this weekend.

    Too bad they don't appear to have a case of Creme Yvette laying around to get a bottle of it to compare against the Creme de Violette. The Yvette is twice the price and made by the same people doing St. Germain.

    So many liquors, so little time.