Aviation Cocktail

by Stevi on March 28, 2010

in BarSmarts,Education,Gin,Liqueurs

I have successfully finished all the reading and online quizzes for BarSmarts Advanced. This means I can attend BarSmarts Live, when I’ll have to make drinks for people who know how they should taste. In preparation, I’m going to work through each of the 25 drinks every bartender should know. Some I have talked about previously, including the first in the list, the Aviation

The Aviation was created by Hugo Ensslin and appeared in his 1916 book, Recipes for Mixed Drinks

Aviation Cocktail (Original) 

1/3 Lemon Juice (1 ounce)
2/3 El Bart Gin (2 ounces)
2 Dashes Maraschino (0.25 ounce)
2 Dashes Creme de Violette (or Creme Yvette) (0.25 ounce)

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass 

I find this base recipe to far too sour for my tastes, so I reduce the lemon juice to 0.75 ounce or less, and up the Maraschino to 0.5 ounce.

I managed to get a bottle of the newly released Creme Yvette, and it makes a great substitution for Creme de Violette in the Aviation. Given that the best known drink that uses Creme Yvette is the Blue Moon, I am surprised that it consistently adds a reddish hue to drinks. Still, it has the floral violet notes, while being less sweet than the Rothman & Winter violette that is easiest to find in the US market.

Two Aviation Cocktails

Two Aviation Cocktails

The BarSmarts recipe is the modern Aviation. As early as The Savoy Cocktail Book, the drink had lost the violette, which doubtless became impossible to get during Prohibition.

Aviation Cocktail (Modern) 

2 ounces London dry gin
0.5 ounces Maraschino liqueur
0.5 ounces lemon juice 

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass 

This version is a gin sour that takes advantage of the funkiness of Maraschino that I for one love. 

The history-loving cocktail geek in me wants to prefer the original Aviation. Still, the version I usually make at home is the modern recipe. The floral notes of the violette (or yvette) are nice on occasion. But the modern Aviation is a solid standard, and I have to agree, it’s a cocktail every bartender should know.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Matthew Skala March 29, 2010 at 6:06 am

I wonder if Creme Yvette’s colour is pH sensitive; a lot of pink and purple plant-derived substances are. In that case it might change colour when you add it to a sour cocktail.


Stevi March 29, 2010 at 8:33 am

That sounds like an excellent excuse reason to try some SCIENCE!


Doug Ford March 30, 2010 at 8:21 am

Stevi, we don’t have Creme Yvette in our market yet, so it’s fun to encounter first-hand reports of its characteristics. And so I am shocked to learn of this red color business. It’s curious that Creme Yvette would appear with this behavior—it seems like the renewed popularity of the Blue Moon and the Aviation, with its legendary sky-blue hue, would be one of the things driving Yvette’s revival. But if you can’t get the legendary hue? That’s a tough little marketing problem, oof.


Eric Angle April 30, 2010 at 9:53 am

I find most Aviation recipes WAY too sour. Some, like the “original” above, call for a full ounce of lemon juice and only 0.25 ounce of maraschino. That’s ludicrous. The “modern” version you list is much better, though I think (I haven’t settled on this issue yet) I prefer even less lemon juice at 0.25 ounces: http://www.drinkboy.com/Cocktails/Recipe.aspx?itemid=10

The same thing goes for the Hemingway Daiquiri. 1.5 oz. rum, 0.75 oz. lime juice, 0.25 oz. maraschino, and 0.25 oz. grapefruit juice is WAY too tart. I don’t care if Hemingway didn’t like sugar, blah, blah, blah, the drink needs sweetness.


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