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Parfait d’Amour

by on August 2011

Valentines day is a wonderful commercial holiday. If the governments of the world wanted to fix the economy, they’d just make Valentines a week event and everything would be fixed. But alas, only Hallmark had that level of ingenuity. Flowers, chocolate, cards, diamonds and a dinner out now represent the modern definition of love, which is paid in one annual lump sum, due on February 14th. But, some of the enlightened, like myself, prefer to dispense the love throughout the year and avoid the mad rush and over booked restaurants. But, I can’t help doing a post since I came across the perfect topic, Parfait d’Amour.

Many people know Parfait d’Amour as a sweet purple liqueur made from violets and vanilla. This flavour profile is probably the most recognized, but the reality is that the original recipes didn’t contain vanilla or violets at all. The key ingredient was a combination of Coriander Seeds, citrus zest and cinnamon or cloves.

In the later 18th century, every country seemed to have a variation on this liqueur. The Italians had Perfetto Amore, the French had Parfait d’Amour and the English and Americans had Perfect Love. The english translation just doesn’t seem to have the romantic sound that the French and Italians have.

The other characteristic of this liqueur was its affinity towards the fairer sex. Yep, this was a chick drink and by all account the girls couldn’t get enough of it. But, like all fads, it eventually fell out of favour in the 1830’s. Other elixirs' of love include Oil of Venus and Spirit of Adonis, which again were targeted at the ladies.

It may not be the perfect gift on Valentines day, but making a batch of classic Parfait d’Amour may qualify as a unique and thoughtful gift. In reality, you’ll probably just end up in the doghouse trying to explain what the hell you were thinking when you presented a bottle of coriander flavoured liqueur as your gift of loved.

French Parfait Amour (1808)

3 Quarts Brandy (Proof)
6 Quarts Water
3 lbs White Sugar
3 tsp Coriander Seeds
2 tsp Cinnamon
¼ tsp Essence of Bitter Almond
Zest of 4 Small Lemons
¼ oz Cochineal Colouring

Infuse the lemon zest and cochineal in the brandy for 24 hours. Make a simple syrup with the sugar and water, cool and then add to the brandy. Add the remaining ingredients and let stand for six days. Filter and bottle.

Perfetto Amore

4 Quarts Brandy (Proof)
2 Quarts Water
2 lbs Sugar
¼ lb Currants
24 Coriander Seeds
24 Cloves
2 Cinnamon Sticks
Salt
Cochineal
Zest of 4 fresh Seville Oranges

Combine all ingredients, except sugar and water, and steep for 24 hours. Distil off 2 quarts of brandy. Make a syrup with water and sugar and combine when cool. Filter and bottle.

Perfect Love

2½ Gallons Alcohol
10 lbs Sugar
5 Quarts Water
4 oz Zest of Lime
2 oz Zest of Lemon
2 tsp Cloves

Macerate for ten days and then distil.

Tagged: recipe | lost | liqueur | history | french