The Aviation may not be the most popular of all time, but it offers a unique flavor profile and taste quite unlike any other drink.
This beautiful, clear violet cocktail features one of the most elusive liqueurs of all time: Crème de Violette, which is what gives it that amazing violet-blue color.
It offers this spectacular azure cocktail a subtle floral bouquet and a light flavor profile that’s perfectly balanced when mixed with fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
A Turbulent History
This cocktail has a rocky history with more turbulence than a jet trying to fly through a thunderstorm.
This cocktail’s invention is credited to Hugo R. Ensslin, who put the recipe in his 1916 book entitled Recipes for Mixed Drinks. His recipe called for Crème de Violette, but this French liqueur became impossible to find after prohibition.
When Harry Craddock published the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, the Aviation recipe was included—sans Crème de Violette.
If you’re not a fan of violet liqueur, you can still enjoy this drink without it. Actually, it was served for almost forty years based on the Craddock recipe, without the violet liqueur as one of its ingredients.
While the version with no violet liqueur is undeniably delicious, it’s also much sourer than the subtly floral and sweet original recipe. If you can’t find Crème de Violette, substitute Crème Yvette—it’s also a violet liqueur but contains additional spices that will inevitably alter the cocktail’s taste.
How To Make It
To get that magnificent purple color, you need a liqueur that’s been elusive for many years, particularly after prohibition. Crème de Violette was essentially impossible to find stateside until 2007, when Rothman & Winter produced a version made from Queen Charlotte and March Violets.
- 2 oz gin
- 1/4 oz maraschino liqueur
- 1/4 oz creme de violette
- 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
- Garnish with two cherries, a candied violet, or a lemon twist
- Gather all the ingredients
- In a shaker filled with ice, combine the gin, liqueurs, and fresh lemon juice
- Shake well to mix
- Strain into a pre-chilled coupe glass
- Add your choice of garnish, serve, and enjoy
If you can’t find Crème de Violette, you can still enjoy a variation of this blue-violet cocktail.
For decades, the French liqueur was not available in the U.S., so bartenders made do without it, simply cutting it right out of the recipe.
However, be cautious if you’re leaving out this ingredient. If you overcompensate with lemon juice, this cocktail can quickly become too sour. Be sure to have the right balance of all the ingredients.
If you want a sweeter drink, you could add a quarter ounce of simple syrup.
The Aviation is itself a variation on the classic gin sour, so you could enjoy a simpler version made with gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and an egg white for frothiness.
What does the aviation cocktail taste like?
The Aviation has a slightly sour but sweet and floral flavor. You can taste the botanical flavor of gin, tart lemon juice, and the floral flavors of the creme de violette.
Why is it called an Aviation cocktail?
It’s called an Aviation because of the purple-blue hue of the drink, matching the color of the sky at certain hours.
What is the difference between Aviation and blue moon cocktails?
The Aviation is very similar to the Blue Moon cocktail – both contain gin, lemon juice, and creme de violette. The main difference is that the Aviation also contains maraschino liqueur.
What is creme de violette?
Creme de violette is a French liqueur has a lightly sweet taste reminiscent of the tiny purple flowers called violets, which are actually edible.
What makes the Aviation cocktail purple?
What is a substitute for Aviation cocktails if you don’t have creme de violette?
If you can’t find Crème de Violette, substitute Crème Yvette—it’s also a violet liqueur but contains additional spices that will inevitably alter the cocktail’s taste.