I’ve always been a sucker for blue drinks. It started when I was a kid and Kool-Aid came out with their Berry Blue flavor. I remember my mom mixing it up by the pitcher and drinking it by the gallon. My Kool-Aid days may be over, but my love of blue drinks continues with the Aviation.
I ran across this cocktail while reading the marvelously written blog, Cold Glass, written by Doug Ford. The Aviation first appeared in print in Hugo Ensslin’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks published in 1916. The original Aviation contained gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette. The crème de violette provided floral notes and gave the cocktail its signature light blue hue. Catastrophe struck the Aviation in 1930 when the Savoy Cocktail Book omitted the crème de violette. The exact reason why the crème de violette was left out are unknown, though some attribute it to a simple mistake. Regardless of the reason, the absence of the fourth ingredient transformed the cocktail into a sour gin based drink that faded into obscurity.
In the midst of the current cocktail Renaissance, and the resumed availability of crème de violette, the Aviation cocktail has been resurrected. Recipes for the drink are all over the map and vary regarding the amount of gin, lemon juice, whether or not to include simple syrup, and most importantly if crème de violette has a place.
In the interest of science I mixed up an Aviation devoid of crème de violette, and I can personally attest it was a horribly sour and unappealing drink. Ultimately, I played around with the proportions of all the possible ingredients and after some trial and error arrived at the following recipe:
1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. crème de violette
1 tsp. Luxador maraschino liquor
1 tsp simple syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a well chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.