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Aviation Cocktail Recipe - Drink Flew Under The Radar For Years

The Birth Of Aviation (cocktails)

The Aviation cocktail is a classic concoction which first appeared among Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. Originally published with four ingredients, the Aviation drink recipe contained gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur (bittersweet Marasca cherry liqueur) and crème de violette (floral violet liqueur).

When the Savoy Cocktail Book was printed in 1930, the Aviation was flying with a new formula after lightening the load a little. The violet liqueur which adds the pale blue / purple color had been eliminated from its version of the Aviation recipe and still remains preferred by many.

Behind The Bar - How To Mix Aviation Cocktails At Home

Pale blue purple Aviation cocktail with no drink garnish in martini glass.Aviation Cocktail (Recipes for Mixed Drinks version):

  • 1 1/2 oz  gin
  • 3/4 oz  lemon juice
  • 2 dashes  maraschino liqueur
  • 2 dashes  crème de violette

Use a citrus juicer to fresh squeeze a lemon. Add the juice along with gin, maraschino liqueur (not the brine that maraschino cherries are bottled in) and the creme de violette to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with an optional fresh or maraschino cherry.

Aviation Cocktails Take Flight - Not Everybody Swears By Them

Although its 100 years old or so, the Aviation drink flew under the radar for years and was destined to become a footnote in the history of mixology until the renaissance in craft cocktails revived and romanticized the recipe. Not everyone feels the love though. Do Not Resuscitate was a seminar featured during the 2012 Manhattan Cocktail Classic and Dale DeGroff, the renowned bartender who authored Craft of the Cocktail, weighed in with his distaste for the Aviation.

“Rediscovered in the early 2000s, it was one of the earliest and most celebrated reclamation projects of the mixologist community. ‘It was a darling of the Internet,’ Mr. DeGroff said. But, ‘It tastes like hand soap.’ And, if you use the blue-hued creme de violette called for in some recipes, ‘it’s more like hand soap.’” ~ Cocktails for the History Books, Not the Bar

Shouldn’t have sworn over at grandma’s house. Rumor has it that getting your mouth washed out with those flower scented brands really leaves a bad aftertaste :D

Far from a sanitized sip, the aviation is a delicious drink. The cherry and violet liqueurs aren’t very common ingredients though and the the crème de violette used to be hard to find. You may want to order an Aviation cocktail at a restaurant or nightclub first to see if you like it or a particular recipe version before you stock your home bar.

Aviation Drink Recipe (recommended):

  • 2 oz  gin
  • 1/2 oz  maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4 oz  lemon juice

Aviation Variations And Other Similar Cocktails

The Aviation drink recipe is a variation of the Gin Sour which substitutes maraschino and/or violet liqueurs instead of sugar for its sweetening. Not to be confused with the drink which is a play on the two words a.k.a the Avariation, a cocktail created when the Next Iron Chef contestants walked into a bar during the seduction episode. Other variations of the Aviation include the Blue Moon without the maraschino liqueur and the Moonlight cocktail with gin, lime juice, orange and violet liqueurs.

More Drinks Mixed With Gin And Maraschino Liqueur:

  • Bayard Fizz - gin, lime juice, maraschino liqueur, raspberry syrup and soda water.
  • Blue Devil - gin, lemon or lime juice, maraschino liqueur and blue vegetable extract / food coloring.
  • Casino Cocktail - an Aviation cocktail minus creme de violette with orange bitters. Casino Royale adds egg yolk.
  • Colonial - an Aviation drink recipe with grapefruit juice instead of lemon. No creme de violette.
  • DeeDee - gin, lemon and lime juice, maraschino liqueur and cranberry juice.
  • Emerson - an Aviation drink with sweet vermouth as well.
  • Grand Royal Fizz - gin, lemon and orange juice, maraschino liqueur, sugar and cream.
  • Harlem - replace the lemon with pineapple juice in an Aviation cocktail without creme de violette.
  • Ideal Cocktail - add dry vermouth to a Colonial cocktail. For the martini add to an Aviation drink.
  • Imperial Cocktail - gin, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur and aromatic bitters.
  • Leave It To Me (No. 2) - a raspberry Aviation drink.
  • Martinez - gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and Boker’s bitters.
  • Opera - replace the lemon juice with Dubonnet fortified wine in an Aviation without creme de violette.
  • Silver Cocktail - an Imperial cocktail with orange bitters instead of aromatic.
  • Tuxedo (No. 2) - a Silver cocktail with anise licorice liqueur.
  • White Rose - a Grand Royal Fizz plus egg white without cream and sugar.

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