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.
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.
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.
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