The Aviation is unusual among classic cocktails in that it is probably more popular today than it was in the golden age. Its distinctive pale blue color along with a rich red cherry make it a feast for the eyes, and a floral aroma stimulates the nose. It can be easily prepared in bulk for a party, or served as a stunning aperitif when a guest says “surprise me.” If you need more lift, try an Aviation.
Our Preferred Aviation Cocktail Recipe
- 1-1/2 oz Dry Gin
- 1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
- 1/4 oz Crème de Violette
- Maraschino Cherry
Add the liquids to a shaker half-full of ice, and shake with authority until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and drop the cherry to the bottom. The conical cocktail glass is strongly preferred to maximize the visual effect of the cherry. Perhaps more than other shaken drinks, the ice chips floating on top are also considered part of the effect.
- Plymouth Gin is our go-to brand for the Aviation, but it is a very good cocktail with which to try some of the dry and clear artisan brands.
Citrus juice should always be fresh squeezed just prior to making the cocktail. Half a lemon will provide more than enough juice for one serving.
Use Luxardo maraschino liqueur and Rothman and Winter Crème de Violette
If you search around you will find that the ingredient ratios in the Aviation are all over the map. In the original from the early 1900s, it is a 2:1 gin to lemon ratio with just a couple of dashes each of the maraschino and violette. Most recipes today are about 3:1 and use at least a quarter ounce of the liqueurs. Most important, in our view, is that there is enough violette to create the blue color, and that there is enough maraschino plus violette that the drink is not too tart.
In a twist of fate, one of the more popular cocktail books in the 1930s dropped the Crème de Violette from the recipe. The result was not as tasty, not nearly as pretty, and was never very popular. Despite this, a debate currently rages as to the correct recipe. Consumatorium comes down strongly on the side of the violette, since the alternative belies the name and is really just a gin sour with Luxardo substituted for the syrup.
Recently a classic liqueur called Crème Yvette was resurrected and reintroduced in the U.S. It also has a violet base but with some additional spices. It can be substituted for the violette as a minor variation. Do not substitute curaçao or any other blue liqueur for the violette; nor cheap maraschino liqueur or maraschino cherry juice for the Luxardo; nor Old Tom gin for the dry gin. All of these variations make the drink taste worse and in any case ruin its character.
The Blue Moon drops the maraschino liqueur and just replaces it with more violette. It is garnished with a twist of lemon. This drink appeared in David Embury’s classic recipe book, and should not be confused with another family of drinks with that name that contain curaçao and fruit juices. The Moonlight replaces the lemon with lime and the maraschino with Cointreau.
Since you will need to obtain Crème de Violette to make these cocktails, and it does not go all that fast, it is worth pointing out that the Rothman and Winter website contains a number of delightful-sounding recipes that use their product. If nothing else, add a little to Prosecco or Champagne. Even better, invent a cocktail of your own using this aromatic and tasty liqueur.
Why You Will Like The Aviation Cocktail
The Aviation is a refreshing, balanced gin drink where the color starts conversations and the ingredients make them more interesting.