When it comes to cocktail colors, purple tends to be rare. Often, purple drinks are a result of using butterfly pea flour, the color-changing compound found in Empress 1908 gin and Wild Hibiscus b’Lure butterfly pea flower extract. Other times, it a result of using creme de violette, like in the historic Aviation cocktail, though that can easily come out closer to sky blue, as befits its name. However, bartender Thor Slaughter of Eugene, Oregon, developed his own purple cocktail with neither of those ingredients. Instead, The Purple One features a fermented grape soda, but it’s not jammy or overly sweet. “In cocktails I always try to show people a different side of a flavor than they might be familiar with,” Slaughter says. “Most people hear “purple grape flavor” and prepare for something sickeningly sweet... it was very important to keep the drink lean and maintain that beautiful dark purple hue.”
Slaughter created the Purple One while working at Eugene’s Party Bar. The restaurant’s owner developed a fermented grape soda based on a recipe from the now-closed Bar Tartine in San Francisco, and Slaughter used it to add that namesake violet hue. The recipe for the soda is available in the Bar Tartine’s cookbook, “Bar Tartine: Techniques and Recipes.” However, if you’re making The Purple One at home you can feel free to substitute a high quality bottled grape soda like Boylan or Stewart’s. And although it calls for soda, it only takes a bit and is served in a cocktail glass rather than a highball.
The base spirit of The Purple One is Vivacity Native gin, made nearby Eugene in Corvallis, Oregon. Slaughter describes it as being beautiful and floral, and different from the more traditional London dry style. If you can’t find it, Slaughter suggests substituting it with another “flowery” gin. The drink also gets Carpano Bianco vermouth. “The Carpano Bianco was the perfect choice to help even out the drink,” Slaughter says. “The vermouth has that nice dry sweetness that is the hallmark of a solid blanc vermouth. It expands the notes of the drink and balances the mouthfeel—the drink feels quite viscous without it.”
As for its name, it comes from Minneapolis’ most beloved rock star. As Slaughter says, “Who doesn’t love Prince?”
- 1 1/2 ounces Vivacity Native gin
- 3/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/4 ounce simple syrup
- 1/2 ounce Carpano Bianco vermouth
- Grape soda, chilled, to top
Add the Vivacity Native gin, lime juice, simple syrup and Carpano Bianco vermouth to a shaker filled with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a cocktail glass.
Top with 3/4 to 1 ounce grape soda.