Water Lily Cocktail Recipe

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Water Lily Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Water Lily cocktail is a classic drink that dates back to the early 20th century. It was created by renowned bartender Hugo Ensslin, who included the recipe in his 1916 book 'Recipes for Mixed Drinks'. The Water Lily is a delicate and elegant cocktail, often enjoyed by those who appreciate a well-balanced and sophisticated drink. Its beautiful appearance and delightful taste make it a popular choice for special occasions and celebrations.

How Water Lily Tastes?

The Water Lily cocktail has a harmonious balance of sweet, sour, and floral flavors. The combination of gin, Cointreau, crème de violette, and lemon juice creates a light and refreshing taste with a subtle hint of citrus and a delicate floral undertone.

Interesting facts about Water Lily

  • The Water Lily is often compared to the Aviation cocktail, as both drinks contain gin, lemon juice, and crème de violette.
  • Crème de violette, a key ingredient in the Water Lily, is a liqueur made from violet flowers and has a distinct purple hue.
  • The name 'Water Lily' is inspired by the cocktail's delicate appearance and its pale purple color, reminiscent of the water lily flower.


A few good options for Water Lily are:

  • Brockmans
  • Silent Pool Gin
  • Hendrick's Gin

Learn everything on which Gin to choose


Gin provides a botanical base to the Water Lily, giving structure to the more aromatic notes. If you're light on gin, you might miss out on that juniper je ne sais quoi that makes your taste buds sing. Overdo it, and you may feel like you're sipping on a pine tree.

Emma Rose


This orange liqueur brings sweetness and depth, acting as a citrusy counterpart to balance the other ingredients. Cut back on Cointreau, and you lose some warmth. Pour too generously, and you might think you've wandered into a candy shop.

Alex Green

Crème de Violette

This is the secret garden of the drink, infusing delicate floral notes. Without it, it’s like a meadow without flowers. While overindulging might make you feel like you're drinking grandma's perfume, just the right amount whispers sophistication.

Mary Mitkina

Lemon Juice

Fresh is best—think of it as the zesty zinger. Too little, and the cocktail loses its pep. Too much, and it's pucker-up central. Lemon rounds out the sweetness and brings all the other characters to the lively dance.

Emma Rose


It's not just a cold factor; it's a mixer and chiller, the unsung hero keeping everything smooth and sociable. No ice, and your cocktail is as warm as a lukewarm handshake. The right amount cools the drink without diluting the encounter too much.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Water Lily Drink

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
  2. Add 1oz of gin, 1oz of Cointreau, 1oz of crème de violette, and 1oz of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  3. Shake well until chilled and combined
  4. Strain the mixture into a chilled coupe or martini glass
  5. Garnish with a lemon twist or a small edible flower, if desired

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
  • Chill your glass before pouring the cocktail to keep it extra cold.
  • If you can't find crème de violette, you can use violet syrup as a substitute.

Perfect Pairings

Food Pairings

  • Cheese Platter: A selection of mild cheeses complements the floral notes without overpowering the cocktail
  • Seafood Dishes: Light seafood such as grilled shrimp or a ceviche can harmonize with the citrusy and floral elements
  • Fruit Desserts: A fruit tart or lemon sorbet can mirror the cocktail's citrusy aspect and provide a refreshing counterpoint

Drink Pairings

  • Champagne: The effervescence can cleanse the palate between sips of the cocktail
  • Sparkling Water: To stay hydrated and balance the cocktail’s flavors without additional alcohol

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What you could change in Water Lily

  • Gin: You can use vodka if you prefer a less botanical flavor.
  • Cointreau: Triple sec can be used as a substitute.
  • Crème de Violette: If you can't find it, use violet syrup or skip it entirely for a less floral flavor.

Explore all drinks starting with W here

And of course - twists🍹

Lavender Blue Lily

  • Infuse your gin with culinary lavender for a day before making the cocktail
  • Use the lavender-infused gin instead of regular gin
  • This twist will add a dash of calming, aromatic lavender that will accentuate the floral notes even further

Blushing Lily

  • Swap out the crème de violette for crème de cassis to add a berry twist
  • This will result in a blush-colored cocktail with a hint of berry sweetness, offering an earthier palate.

Bitter Lily

  • Include a dash of orange bitters to the cocktail recipe
  • The bitterness provides a complex flavor that cuts through the sweetness and adds an extra layer of depth.

In case you forgot basics how to make Water Lily

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Water Lily

What type of gin is best to use in the Water Lily cocktail?

A high-quality, neutral-tasting gin is best used in a Water Lily cocktail. London Dry Gin is often a favourite choice, but feel free to experiment!

I'm having a party, how can I scale this recipe?

You can simply multiply the ingredient amounts by the number of drinks you wish to make. But remember, when scaling cocktail recipes, you'll want to taste and adjust accordingly.

Is there an alcohol-free version of the Water Lily cocktail?

Yes, you can replace the gin and Cointreau with non-alcoholic substitutes, and use a syrup in place of the Crème de Violette. Just remember, the taste may slightly differ from the original.

What is the alcohol content of this cocktail?

Given that the recipe calls for an ounce each of gin, Cointreau, and Crème de Violette, each approximately 40% alcohol by volume, the cocktail is fairly potent, with each drink containing roughly 1.2 standard drinks.

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