Aviation Cocktail

By Robert Hess

This long forgotten classic has recently been seeing a hearty return, due partially to one of its core ingredients, Maraschino liqueur also being more available. The Aviation is often the first obscure drink that makes its way onto the cocktail menu of a bar that is trying to acquaint it's customers with pre-prohibition cocktails.

Recipe

Ingredients

2 oz gin

1/2 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz Maraschino Liquer

1/4 oz violette liquer

Instructions

Shake with ice.

Strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with a cherry.

Comments
Evil Bus Driver 28 Jul 2008
7:52 am

Hi Robert,

nice to see you finally present the Aviation in its true form. Here in Seattle, Rothman and Winter’s Creme de Violette is finally on the shelf though only at one store location.

Like you I use a parisian shaker but I have a devil of a time with it because the two pieces tend to stick together when shaking with ice making it darn near impossible for me to open the shaker. You don’t seem to have that problem here. What’s your secret?

Chris 28 Jul 2008
5:27 pm

Robert,

Why is it that you’ve reverted to using those vile, neon cherries?  Perhaps a brandied cherry wouldn’t bring the right flavor to an aviation, but I highly recommend both the recipe at cocktailnerd and the Luxardo marasca cherries available at Kegworks.

Here’s a link to the cocktailnerd recipe, for anyone interested: http://cocktailnerd.com/?p=981

Chris

Gabriel Szaszko 29 Jul 2008
6:10 am

Thanks for the shout-out, Chris. I need to give full credit to The Art of Bar by Hollinger and Schwartz for the recipe as I only changed it slightly. Also, Robert Heugel has a write up on brandied cherries here:

http://drinkdogma.com/the-cocktail-cherry-the-neon-nemesis/

Cheers! And thanks, Drinkboy, for keeping coverage of this great drink alive.

Robert Hess 30 Jul 2008
9:47 am

Re: Parisian Shaker… Yes, they do take a little more muscle to open up, some are eaiser than others. You just have to grip them tightly, and open them with a slight twist and then tilt it up at an angle.

Re: Cherries… There are certain drinks where I prefer using the “imitation maraschino cherries” (note: these cherries USED to always have that listed n the bottle, but a while back that requirement was dropped). It all depends on if the bright red color provides what I feel is a more visual “garnish” to the drink than the darker true maraschino cherry. The Mai Tai, and the Aviation, are the two that I commonly use the faux cherries with. Other times it just depends what I currently have on hand :->

And I think EVERYBODY should be playing around with making their own cherries at home. They are easy, and provide that nice personal touch. Thanks for the pointers to some recipes folks can try!

Wild Bill Turkey 30 Jul 2008
10:57 am

Thank you Thank you for putting up this Classy version of this great drink!

The Rothman & Winter’s Creme de Violette is available at several places here in San Francisco, now, and at least three major online outlets. It also figures prominently in Gary Regan’s “Moonlight Cocktail”, a tweak of the Aviation, featuring Cointreau and lime juice in place of the maraschino and lemon juice.

Blair Frodelius 30 Jul 2008
11:55 am

Bob,

I’d have to say that the Creme de Violette makes for a “deeper” cocktail experience.  I’ll have to try the Moonlight Cocktail.  Is it in “The Joy of Mixology”?

I’ve been making my own Luxardo cherries for a while now.  Not only do they taste better, but by leaving the stem on the cherries while they soak, it adds a bit to the final presentation. 

My question for everyone out there is, have you used the maraschino liqueur in any cocktails post-marination?  It certainly turns a deep red and might work as a less sweet
grenadine substitute if you add a bit of simple syrup.

Cheers!

Blair Frodelius
Good Spirits News
http://goodspiritsnews.spaces.live.com

Perry Willis 30 Jul 2008
12:55 pm

Love the Aviation; thanks for documenting it so well. Have not had violette liquer to add yet, but cannot wait. My search begins!

Parisian Shaker: My wife refused to use it for two reasons. First, it is a tad small for making more than one cocktail. Second, the difficulty in opening. If you let it rest a minute on the counter after shaking, the air temp inside warms making it easier to open. Prep your glassware if needed while it rests and that usually works for her.

Two questions:
1. What brand is becoming available?  I may have my liquor store request it.
2. For making one’s own maraschino cherries, what do you use? I made one batch with dehydrated cherries, brandy and some maraschino liquer (Luxardo). They were okay. Suggestions?

Wild Bill Turkey 1 Aug 2008
5:33 pm

To Blair Frodelius:
Linkt to gary Regan’s “Moonlight Cocktail”:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2007/09/28/WIVTS4MNB.DTL&type=wine

AC Guy 8 Aug 2008
11:42 am

Rothman & Winter’s Cr

K. Morgan 26 Aug 2008
5:58 pm

Hey, Robert,

Just a semi-off-topic note here:

Have found a great and very simple cocktail using the Luxardo Maraschino Liquer.  I understand that it’s not really a cocktail unless it has bitters, but the Luxardo has such a delightful bitterness, I can let it slide; hopefully others can as well.

I was going for an evening imbibement of Sky vodka over ice, and thought, hey,  I really need to experiment more with that Luxardo (it’s new to me, since your introduction on your webcast).

So, just a rocks glass, ~3/4 full of chopped ice, ~2 shots of vodka, and a generous dash of the Luxardo.  It seems to have a kind of simple elegance, to me, anyway.  Bonus: no hangover issues the next day.  YMMV…

Anyway, thanks for introducing the Luxardo.

Cheers,

Kimball Morgan

Robert Hess 26 Aug 2008
6:10 pm

Kimball,

I’m perfectly willing to consider well constructed “non-bittered” drinks as being “cocktails”.  So thanks for doing some experimentations on your own!

Something to remember about vodka, is that it is (essentially) a flavorless alcohol, which means it’s main role in a cocktail is to essentially be a volume knob for flavors which might otherwise be a tad too intense. So the drink you have here is essentially just a softening of the flavor of Maraschino liqueur. Or you could see it as taking “vodka on ice” and imparting into it some of the interesting flavors of Maraschino liqueur.

You also bring to the discussion the hangover issue… an important thing to remember here is that it isn’t that “vodka” is a hangover free spirit, but that “properly distilled” spirits have a lot fewer hangover inducing contaminantes than “improperly distilled” spirits. It isn’t the flavoring compontents of brandy, gin, whiskey, etc. that can cause are the problem, but it is the inclusion of “heads” and “tails” in the distillation process (which ideally is all “heart”).

Cheaper spirits will be a little less carefull about their distillation, and so will be less kind to you in the morning. But a cheap vodka can give you a far worse hangover then a great tequila.

-Robert

K. Morgan 26 Aug 2008
7:01 pm

Thanks, Robert,

re: the potential hangover:

This, again, may be a different topic issue.

Any recommendations on a brand of either Vitamin “V”, or tequila, that will be kind to the body, mind, and spirit (no pun intended) the following morning?

Thanks!

Kimball Morgan

Robert Hess 26 Aug 2008
7:19 pm

For an interesting, and perhaps even slightly controversial look at hangovers, I might recommend: “Drink as Much as You Want and Live Longer” by Frederick M. Beyerlein

http://www.amazon.com/dp/155950188X

In which a nutritionalist provides some details on what causes hangovers, and the “sunscreen” approach that works best for helping you with them.

Perhaps unfortunately, I don’t get hangovers, so I don’t have much in the way of personal recommendations on specifics of how to avoid them, or how to recover from them the morning after.

-Robert

blair frodelius 27 Aug 2008
4:15 am

Robert,

Since we’re on this topic, what do you know about hangovers and mixing types of spirits?  The last one I had was after drinking a Ti Punch, an Armagnac, a shot of Premium Reposado tequila and then finishing the evening with a Caipirinha.  This was all over a six hour period, by the way.

Next day I felt lousy.  Should one generally stay with all clear spirits or all aged spirits in an evening, or doesn’t it matter?

Blair

Robert Hess 27 Aug 2008
5:18 am

Since I don’t really get hangovers, I can only repeat what I’ve heard from others regarding it, and the book mentioned above had what “appears” to be a very logical thought here:

It isn’t mixing alcohols which is the cause of hangovers, but the food which you are eating. While poor distillation will result in other types of alcohol and contaminates which are going to hit you the next morning, simply mixing the different character components from different spirits aren’t going to do anything more than having that spirit all by itself. The various food-stuffs in your stomache however can curdle or otherwise react with the alcohol and result in components which can cause the problem.

..or at least that’s his advice. And it seems sound to me.

-Robert

Perry Willis 12 Sep 2008
2:47 pm

Okay, just got my creme de violette last week thanks to a quite helpful distributor. Rothman & Winter. This has a tad of an odd note on the nose and may be typical, but there it is. I had a tough time getting the maraschino and creme de violette to play nice on my pallette, so I started playing with ratios and this finally worked for me.

I’m sure I’ll burn in hell for my boldness/blaspheme, but I care not and willingly accept my fate now that I’ve tasted my final version. The brand of gin seems to make quite a difference. I had some Hendricks laying around and liked it over my usual Beefeaters. Juniper? Anyway here is what I do and I like it. You may not, but as Robert always encourages folks, toy with it until you like it.

Perry’s Aviation
2 oz Hendricks (I typically have Beefeater on hand but had this and it worked great)
1/4 oz Luxardo maraschino
1/4 oz Rothman & Winter Creme de violette (odd note on nose but all I can find)
1/4 oz lemon juice (strained if you are in the mood)
1 dash Grapefruit bitters (optional)
Shake and strain into a chilled glass
Garnish as you like (cherry, blackberry, lemon peel, or go commando)

blair frodelius 12 Sep 2008
5:10 pm

perry,

oddly enough, i just made an aviation with hendrick’s earlier this week.  I have to admit that i have yet to find a cocktail that is not overwhelmed with the intensity of hendrick’s (charlotte voisey would kill me!)  however, that being said, i’m thinking (without trying it) that your cocktail ratios would work greatly if you added a total of 1/2 oz. lemon juice.  by the way, i like the idea adding fee’s grapefruit bitters.  that would work well with the maraschino.

if you have the opportunity, please try it with plymouth gin.  the difference will be astounding, and well worth the effort.  the aviation has made my top 10 list if made with plymouth and creme de violette.

cheers!

blair frodelius
http://goodspiritsnews.spaces.live.com

oliver 18 Sep 2008
8:22 am

dear robert,
is it true that in the first recipe a cherry is added? or is that your reference to the jupiter cocktail which seems to be a brother of the aviation?
and in the first recipe is less maraschino.
anyway a very difficult to balance cocktail but a great one.
regards

Robert Hess 19 Sep 2008
5:43 am

Oliver,

The oldest known printed recipe for the Aviation comes from “Recipes for Mixed Drinks” by Hugo Ensslin (1916). This was the last (known) cocktail book to be published in New York prior to Prohibition. There, the recipe for the Aviation is listed as:

Aviation
1/3 Lemon Juice
2/3 El Bart Gin
2 Dashes Maraschino
2 Dashes Creme de Violette
Shake well in a mixing glass with cracked ice, strain and serve.

So no garnish is indicated.

Re: Jupiter… Not sure I’d call this a brother of the Aviation. Gin, Dry Vermouth, Orange Juice, Parfait Amour. The only thing similar is the gin… and perhaps the color of the Parfait Amour. Or were you thinking of something else?

-Robert

oliver 7 Oct 2008
5:10 am

robert,
hm, difficult to explain why the jupiter is a brother - not a twin! - of the aviation for me. It`s the taste, the similarity in composition not in the ingredients (of course). Both are very fine, fresh, little dry and flowery. and both are really hard to balance. don`t you think that somebody who love the aviation will love the jupiter too? anyway, thank you for the original recipe. what about an episode of the jupiter?

Blake 20 Mar 2009
2:14 pm

RE hangovers: The main component of a hangover, the headache, red eyes, and such, is primarily dehydration. If you drink about a glass of water for every drink, you will never get a hangover. While I don’t currently drink more than maybe two or three drink in an evening now, I have in the past on occasion. I’ve only had a hangover once, and that was when I didn’t drink enough water. The other cure, of course, is just not to drink too much.

Also, I heard someone say something about Hendricks overpowering this cocktail. Anyone else think this is the case?

blair frodelius 20 Mar 2009
3:34 pm

Blake,

I feel the same about Hendrick’s in an Aviation.  My favourite is Plymouth.  The smoothness works especially well with the maraschino liqueur.  Othe gins that work well, but kind of are a blank canvas are Beefeater, Broker’s, Citadel, etc…  I would not use Tanqueray in this drink either, as it is very crisp.  I feel that an Aviation needs a gin which has a medium body.

Cheers!

Blair
http://goodspiritsnews.spaces.live.com

Ben Alpers 22 Jun 2009
6:06 pm

I finally found myself in a state (MN) in which I could pick up a bottle of Creme de Violette.  I just got back home to Oklahoma and tried my first _real_ Aviation (having made a “modern” one a couple times in the past).  The violette really transforms this drink, in my opinion.  I now understand why this is so beloved of cocktail geeks everywhere!

Brian Dressler 19 Aug 2010
10:54 am

Don’t forget to watch Jamie’s twist on the aviation:
http://www.smallscreennetwork.com/video/26/molecular_mixology_aviation/

The Flying Dutchman 13 Apr 2011
10:04 am

I would recommend the following recipe for an Aviation Cocktail:

2 oz Plymouth gin
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
2 tsp Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

Shake with ice and pour into a chilled cocktail glass.

Drizzle 1/4 oz The Bitter Truth crème de violette (straight from the ‘fridge) over the cocktail.

No garnish is needed (the crème de violette is sufficient garnish).

H/t <a > The New York Times</a>

Alan 28 Jul 2011
9:15 am

There is something available from Teissere called Sirop de violette which appears to be violette syrup as opposed to a liqueur. I don’t know much about it all or if there’s much difference between the ingredient called for in the Aviation recipe and the syrup.

http://www.mondizen.com/en/product.php?id_currency=1&id_product=1168&rebuild=1

Alan 4 Aug 2011
1:26 am

I can get my hands on Benoit Serres Liqueur de Violette. That will do for this drink won’t it?

Dr. Caro 6 Aug 2011
7:21 am

Robert,

First of all, great videos. A huge boon to us trying to get into mixology and great cocktails, I cant wait to read your book.

Second. I have creme yvette but do not have creme de violette. Are they similar taste profiles and readily interchangeable or are they really two different beasts?

-Adam

Alan 8 Aug 2011
1:22 am

In Ted Haigh’s book ‘Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails’ he writes:

“The original Aviation had both maraschino and Creme Yvette, giving the drink a sky ting in keeping with the name, but by the drink’s heyday it was the light translucent recipe I display below. In the Aviation, it’s the earthy, clear, natural maraschino liqueur that makes the drink levitate.”

So apparently the drink originally had the creme yvette Dr. Caro so I’d say go with that! I’m contemplating whether or not to purchase a bottle of liqueur de violette.

Robert Hess 8 Aug 2011
9:45 am

Adam, Creme Yvette is a “proprietary” and slightly unique product which is for the most part based on Creme de Violette. The two are often referred to interchangeably in recipes, usually based on whatever the bartender happened to have available. If a recipe called for creme de violette, but they only had Yvette, then that is what they would use, and vice versa. Especially when used in small amounts the difference will almost be totally neglegable.

As for its use in the Aviation, it is important to remember that there is perhaps only a single written reference of this recipe using Yvette as an additional ingredient. Most likely this was how this drink was originally made, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best way to make the drink. The first written version of the Sidecar lists it as equal parts of cognac, cointreau, and lemon juice, which frankly I don’t find to be properly balanced.

It is indeed interesting to try to take a bit of a travel back through time, and try drinks as their recipes were originally recorded to try to see what customers would have been served back then, but it is good not to feel too compelled to see such recipes as sacrosanct. Not only should recipes be seen as “relatively” flexible to allow the establishment to tune them to their culinary sensibilities, but the character of ingredients from 100 years ago is almost certainly different from what we have today, and so there is really little way of know exactly what a particular recipe would have tasted like.

-Robert

Dr. Caro 8 Aug 2011
10:07 am

Robert thanks for your quick reply! I have yet to make the aviation cocktail but will likely make one after work using the yvette. It will be fun to get creme de violette and try them and note the differences.

I have used the yvette in the blue moon cocktail as described by Ted Haigh. Great cocktail and the yvette really brings a nice note. I don’t know how he achieved such a lovely blue color to the drink as shown in his photo of the cocktail in “Vintage spirits” though. Mine came out a maroon color. But anyway that is neither here nor their!

Keep the great videos coming.

hmcnally 28 Oct 2011
8:20 am

Excellent treatment!  Try it with an Old Tom Gin (like Hayman’s), makes the drink a little sweeter/smoother, lets the other flavors come forward.  I tend to back off on the Luxardo a smidge, and add that same smidge amount of Creme de Violette… makes for a bluer sky effect.  Also shake the heck out of it to ensure a little foam on top, the clouds if you will.  Yes, I _am_ totally romanticizing the aviation theme…

Ginty 2 Nov 2011
9:23 am

Hey, being a tad tired of not being able to purchase many of these fine liqueurs that are available State-side, I’ve decided I want to start making homemade liqueurs.  Any source anyone has for recipes, especially on the web?

blair frodelius 2 Nov 2011
12:28 pm

Ginty,

You might track down a book called, “Luscious Liqueurs: 50 Recipes for Sublime and Spirited Infusions to Sip and Savor” by A. J. Rathbun.  It’s a great starting place and can easily find copies for sale online.

Cheers!

Blair
http://goodspiritsnews.com

blair frodelius 5 Dec 2012
7:30 pm

Robert,

Revisiting the Aviation on the eve of Repeal Day! (12.5.12)

It’s really in a category all it’s own.  Not really a sour, certainly not a sweet drink.  More of a unique cocktail island.

Cheers!

Blair

Good Spirits News
http://goodspiritsnews.com

Seth Langford 3 Feb 2013
7:53 pm

Hey Robert, I have been watching your show for quite a while now, and it has lead me to ask you this question.

Why did you shake this drink? I figured you would of stirred it to try and keep the drink clear instead of kind of cloudy.

Thanks!

Celestino 1 Mar 2013
1:52 am

@ Seth,

I would shake this too, since it contains fresh juice (of a lime).

I made this cocktail the other week, albeit using parfait amour (there is no way I can get my hands to creme de violette/yvette). Tasted very good, all of the ingredients could easily be spotted from this cocktail.

Seth Langford 1 Mar 2013
5:47 am

Ahh, I should of known that. The lemon/lime juice makes any drink cloudy by default.

What kind of substance is parfait amour?

Robert Hess 4 Mar 2013
3:13 pm

I’ve got a couple rules of thumb (but not always followed) about shaking/stirring…

1. If all of the ingredients are clear, then the drink should be stirred instead of shaken.

2. It is rarely wrong to stir a drink, but often wrong to shake it. So when in doubt, stir!

That last bit might be a bit controversial… stir a Margarita? Singapore Sling? Ramos Gin Fizz? Ok, so a Ramos might be tough, and a Singapore Sling might not quite come out right, but you could definitely stir a Margarita and end up with a drink that is properly chilled and should taste just as good as if it were shaken.

I think the key point here, is that except in very few cases you can go terribly wrong shaking a drink that isn’t supposed to be, while only slightly wrong stirring a drink that should be shaken.

As for Parfait Amour, it is getting harder to find, but you can think of it as a crème de violette on steroids. It has a nice deep rich blue/purple color, and a rather robust floral vanilla flavor, much more over the top than crème de violette so it can often over power a drink.

Here is a little more detail:
http://cocktaildb.com/ingr_detail?id=216

-Robert

blair frodelius 4 Mar 2013
3:32 pm

Seth,

You can order Parfait Amour from DrinkUpNY here:  http://www.drinkupny.com/Pages_Parfait_Amour_p/s0827.htm

Cheers,

Blair

Argyle Wolf-Knapp 5 Mar 2013
12:20 pm

Teh Aviation is one of my favorite drinks. Rothman & Winter’s Creme de Violette gives a slightly deeper hue to the drink - the slight foam on top sort of making clouds in the sky-grey/blue of the drink itself; a lovely sight. And always rinse the cherries to avoid muddling the color.
As far as shaking goes, I’m mostly with you - although anyone who tries to make a Ramos Fizz by stirring needs to revisit the recipe - it *needs* to be shaken until it thickens, it won’t come out right otherwise.
I’m also curious as to your thoughts on New Amsterdam gin. It makes a lovely Aviation; not too austere or sweet. Also, you might try this: 1 1/2 oz. New Amsterdam with 1/4 oz lemon vodka and 1/4 oz. Maraschino, stirred. FWIW.

Seth Langford 5 Mar 2013
3:02 pm

@ Robert, Thanks for clarification as well as the wonderful extra information that I have learned to expect from you (:

I do not know of any stores around me that sells Parfait Amour,  but I have seen violet liqour. Also, I live in TN where it is not possible to ship in liquor to private consumers. So I might have to make due with what I can find.  As always, thanks.

Thanks for the link Blair, unfortunately, I can not ship liquor into my home state /:

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