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May: La Vénus Noire

Let's get one thing clear from the outset: this cocktail is named for a place, not for a person.


To close out this year of Renée Vivien-themed cocktails, it seems right to suggest something commemorative. To mark the centenary anniversary of Vivien's death (November 18, 2009), an event was held in the basement of La Vénus Noire bar in Paris. This cocktail was created by the bar especially for this occasion, and was first served there. La Vénus Noire is in the rue de l'hirondelle (Swallow Street) in the Latin quarter of Paris, just off the Boulevard St. Michel.

How to Make La Vénus Noire

Step 1: add 1 oz sirop de violettes and 1 oz vodka to a cocktail shaker of ice

Step 2: shake gently and pour into a "flûte" (champagne) glass

Step 3: add 1 oz of white wine and 1 oz of soda water*

Step 4: add just a splash of spring water


*Depending on what sort of sirop de violettes you use, you may want to adjust how much water (bubbly or still) you want to add. With a strong and highly concentrated brand such as "Bitter Truth," I find it needs a little more dilution.

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"Epitaphe sur une Pierre tombale" (Epitaph on a Tombstone) by Renée Vivien (Haillons, 1910)



Voici la porte d'où je sors...

O mes roses et mes épines!

Qu'importe l'autrefois? Je dors

En songeant aux choses divines...


Voici donc mon âme ravie,

Car elle s'apaise et s'endort

Ayant, pour l'amour de la Mort,

Pardonné ce crime, la Vie.

English translation

Here is the door through which I leave...

O my roses and my thorns!

What do bygone times matter? I sleep

Dreaming of divine things...


Here is my soul being carried away,

For it is growing peaceful and falling asleep

Having, for love of Death,

Forgiven that crime, Life.

A few things to think about in this poem (by Melanie Hawthorne)

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