Cocktail: The Aviation

The Aviation first appeared in Hotel Wallick, just off Times Square in New York City.  The first known recipe for an Aviation appears in Bartender Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks.  Since that time the recipe for an Aviation varies slightly, depending on who you talk to.

An Aviation is deceptive in a social setting, because it’s purple (or bluish purple-y) and looks like it might taste like a Cosmopolitan or a Raspberry Mojito.  Those who are unfamiliar with the drink will mistake it for being sweet.  If we’re having a cocktail party and one of the ladies says, “I’ll just have what you’re having,” I typically ask her to try a sip before just mixing an Aviation.  More often than not, the taste surprises her.  The Aviation is actually in the sour family of cocktails.

The basic construction of a sour involves a base liquor (gin, vodka, bourbon, tequila), a sour fruit juice (vernally lemon or lime), and a sweetener (triple sec, simple syrup, grenadine).  In an Aviation the base is gin, the sour is lemon juice, and the sweet is Maraschino liqueur and Crème de Violette.  It is also the Crème de Violette that gives the drink its color, but because it can be difficult to find some people omit it altogether.  (If you can find it, I definitely recommend including it.  That bluish, purple hue is this cocktail’s exotic and whimsical calling card.)

This is my recipe for an Aviation:


  • 2 oz. Gin
  • .5 oz. Maraschino liqueur
  • .5 oz. Crème de Violette
  • 1 oz. lemon juice


  • Add all the ingredients to a shaker
  • Fill with ice
  • Shake and strain into a cocktail glass
  • Garnish with a maraschino cherry

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