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How to make the Aviation cocktail, a drink almost lost to history

The cocktail renaissance brought this classic drink back to the forefront


The cocktail renaissance of the last two decades has brought many classic cocktails seemingly lost to time back to the forefront. While the Old Fashioned is the most notable (and never really went away completely), the list also includes drinks like the Sazerac, Americano, Martinez, Boulevardier, and many more. But there’s one drink in particular that disappeared for decades and almost didn’t come back at all. We’re talking about the Aviation.

What is the Aviation?

Gin bottles
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The last cocktail mentioned might not get the press of the Old Fashioned or even the Manhattan, Negroni, or classic no-frills Daiquiri, but it’s no less memorable. This elegant, flavorful, complex cocktail is historically made with only four ingredients. They are gin, maraschino, liqueur, lemon juice, and crème de violette. Some contemporary recipes opt not to use the latter ingredient.

When was the Aviation cocktail created?

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Aviation got its name because of the purple and blue sky-like color of the crème de violette. It was created in the early 1900s when the US was very excited about the newness of air travel. The first mention of the drink was in 1916 in the book ‘Recipes for Mixed Drinks’ by Hugh Enslinn, a bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York City.

Gin-based cocktails were very popular at the time, and the drink remained a favorite throughout Prohibition. But like many classic drinks, its popularity waned for a half-century or more. Part of the reason for its disappearance was the fact that crème de violette liqueur was discontinued in the ‘60s. Like many forgotten drinks, it returned to prominence with the cocktail renaissance after the liqueur was returned to the American market in 2007, and bartenders began to embrace classic cocktails again.

What you’ll need to make an Aviation

Sliced lemons close-up
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  • 1.5 ounces of London dry gin
  • .5 ounces of fresh lemon juice
  • .5 ounces of maraschino liqueur
  • .75 ounces of Crème de violette
  • Cocktail cherry

The Aviation recipe steps


  1. Add gin, fresh lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and Crème de violette to an ice-filled shaker.
  2. Shake vigorously to combine all the ingredients.
  3. Strain the ingredients into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Add a cocktail cherry as a garnish.

Bottom line

Gordon's Gin

If you’re a fan of gin-based cocktails and you’ve never tried Aviation, now is the time to get on the Prohibition-era cocktail bandwagon. You don’t have to be dressed in a dapper suit or have a gal dressed as a flapper on your arm to enjoy this classic cocktail. You do, however, need a good London dry gin, fresh (not out of a lemon-shaped bottle) lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and Crème de violette.

Besides the gin and lemon juice, these clearly aren’t everyday cocktail ingredients. But if you want a cocktail featuring notes of juniper and herbal gin, fresh citrus, cherry sweetness, and floral flavors, you’ll stock up on these necessary ingredients.

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Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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