Aviation Cocktail


by Raul Faria

The Aviation Cocktail is a true classic both in its history and in its beautifully balanced flavor profile, plus its considered by many to be one of, if not the best pre-prohibition cocktails still around. It is also #20 in our mission to recreate all the cocktails in the Joy of Mixology by Gaz Regan. The Aviation cocktail first appeared in the book “Recipes for Mixed Drinks” written by Bartender Hugo Enssling in 1916. This recipe calls for the addition of Crème de Violette which is a liqueur with a floral, perfumy flavor and aroma, plus contributes a beautiful violet color that was said to represent the pale blue sky. Sky blue? Aviation? Get it? Now the very next appearance of the Aviation in print was in Barman Harry Craddock’s “the Savoy Cocktail book” in 1930 and out went the Crème de Violette. The recipe that we will be making is of course in the Joy of Mixology by Gaz Regan and it omits the Crème de Violette as well. I really enjoy the added floral touch and splash of color that you get when using the Crème de Violette but for this instance let’s stick to the book. Ready to make an Aviation?

1) Lets get our tools together; we will need our Boston Shaker, Hawthorne Strainer, our Citrus Press, a Jigger with a 1 oz and a .5 oz measure and an 6-8 oz cocktail glass or coupe. Our shopping list will consist of Gin, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur and lemons. Our option tools and ingredients will be our Double-Strainer to catch any pulp or seeds from squeezing our lemons, a Barspoon and we can also pick up a bottle of Crème de Violette to add some of that super cool color and floral flavor.

2) Lets start by adding our citrus element to the mixing glass, the .5 oz of lemon juice. You can simply slice a lemon and then utilize our citrus press and squeeze the juice right into the jigger or you can squeeze the juice beforehand, through our double-strainer into a container for later use.

3) Next up will be our .5 oz of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur. This is a funky, herbal, sweet liqueur distilled from the Marasca cherry, pits and all, plus a touch of honey.

4) Time to add our 2 oz of Gin to the mixing glass. Now what kind of Gin is up to you and will bring something different to the table in terms of the final flavor profile of the drink. Hugo Enssling’s recipe called for El Bart Gin. Sadly El Bart isn’t around anymore and theres not a lot of info about it other than it’s a “Dry” gin and slightly sweeter than the London Dry we know today. So for this cocktail I’d recommend an Old School style London Dry like Bombay, Tanqueray or Brokers. We can however play off the Marachino liqueur with some Bombay Sapphire East or Some St George Botanivore too. So at the end of the day go with what you dig and where you wanna go with your cocktail 🙂

5) Lastly lets add ice to our mixing glass and shake, strain into our chilled 6-8 oz cocktail glass or coupe. Enjoy!

Violet Variation– If you want to make the variation of the cocktail utilizing the Crème de Violette (which is technically the original recipe and the way the creator of the cocktail intended it to be made) simply add a barspoon full of the purple stuff to the mixing glass. You will be looking for Rothman and Winter Crème de Violette. It’s made from macerated violets in a brandy base. This is an amazing liqueur with some serious floral notes and some sweetness so it is definitely to be used sparingly but will really add an elegant sweet floral note to your cocktail. This is pretty much the only brand you can find on Earth or in this dimension. Now if you can’t find Rothman and Winter you can also try Crème Yvette or Bols Parfait Armour. These are both great products that involve violets and have a cool pinky, purpley color but will also add some citrus and vanilla notes which will change the cocktail’s flavor profile considerably. Another tip for using de Violette is to use a floral gin like G’vine, Hendricks or Sacred to boost the floral notes without upping the sweet.

Check out our video walkthrough of the Aviation on our YouTube channel here.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Joy of Mixology by Gaz Regan and visit gazregan.com for more!

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