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The Aviation cocktail, a classic concoction that effortlessly marries elegance and complexity, offers an ethereal blend of flavors that transport you straight to the golden age of air travel. This sophisticated drink, with its notable sky-blue hue, is an intriguing blend of gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and a splash of lemon juice.

Its history is as captivating as its taste, taking flight in the early 20th century and soaring through the cocktail scene ever since. Whether you’re an experienced mixologist or a curious newbie, this guide will take you through the fascinating past of the Aviation cocktail, its recipe, key ingredients, and perfect pairings for a truly elevated drinking experience. Buckle up, and prepare for takeoff!

What is the Aviation Cocktail?

The Aviation cocktail is a classic and elegant drink hailing from the early 1900s. Its name is inspired by its sky-blue color which is attributed to one of its key ingredients – crème de violette. This cocktail carries a unique flavor profile, blending floral, tart, and sweet notes in a harmonious mix.

The recipe for the Aviation cocktail typically consists of gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and fresh lemon juice. Some variations may omit the crème de violette, but it’s this ingredient that gives the cocktail its distinctive color and a subtle floral undertone. The Aviation is often garnished with a brandied cherry, adding an extra hint of sweetness to balance its flavors.

Despite its Prohibition-era roots, the Aviation has stood the test of time, remaining a popular choice among cocktail enthusiasts for its sophistication and complex taste. Whether you’re a fan of gin cocktails or just looking to try something new, the Aviation cocktail offers a delightful drinking experience that’s sure to please your palate.

So, the next time you’re in the mood for a cocktail that’s a little bit different, why not take a trip back in time and give the Aviation a try? Its unique combination of flavors and striking appearance make it a standout choice for any occasion.

History of the Aviation Cocktail

The Aviation cocktail is a classic drink with a rich history dating back to the early 20th century. The concoction includes gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette, a liqueur made from violet flowers, giving it a distinctive lavender-blue hue.

The cocktail was first introduced in a 1916 cocktail book called “Recipes for Mixed Drinks” by Hugo Ensslin, a bartender of that era. It was later recreated by Japanese bartender Takumi Watanabe and featured in Gary Regan’s “The Joy of Mixology” published in 2017.

Over the years, the Aviation cocktail has experienced both rise and fall. It was hugely popular in the early 20th century, but its popularity waned over time. However, it’s currently experiencing a resurgence as mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts rediscover classic drinks.

The Aviation cocktail has had a significant influence on cocktail culture. Its unique blend of flavors and striking appearance set it apart from other cocktails. The Aviation cocktail is often credited as the ‘aha’ drink for many, opening up new possibilities for exploration within the realm of mixed drinks.

Recipe: How to Make an Aviation Cocktail

Here is a step-by-step guide to making the classic Aviation cocktail:

  1. Start by filling a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Add 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) of gin to the shaker.
  3. Add 3/4 ounce (1 1/2 tablespoons) of fresh lemon juice.
  4. Add 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) of Maraschino liqueur.
  5. Add 1/4 ounce of crème de violette.
  6. Shake until cold.
  7. Strain into a coupe or other cocktail glass.
  8. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or flamed lemon peel.

This recipe creates a beautifully floral drink, perfect for any occasion.

Variations to consider could include altering the ratio of ingredients to suit personal taste, or experimenting with different brands of gin or maraschino liqueur. You could also consider adding a twist of lemon peel for garnish instead of, or in addition to, the maraschino cherry.

Spotlight on Main Ingredients


Gin is the star of the show in many cocktails, including the Aviation. Originating from Europe, gin is a distilled spirit that gets its predominant flavor from juniper berries. The taste of gin can vary greatly, depending on the brand and type, but it generally has a clean, sharp taste with a strong juniper note, and sometimes, a hint of citrus.

Gin’s bold flavor makes it an excellent base for cocktails, providing a robust foundation that can stand up to a variety of mixers. In the Aviation cocktail, gin plays a vital role in balancing out the sweet and sour notes from the other ingredients.

Maraschino Liqueur

Maraschino liqueur is a somewhat misunderstood ingredient. It’s not made from the bright red cherries we often see on desserts, but from Marasca cherries, a sour variety native to Croatia. The cherries, along with their pits, are fermented and then distilled. The result is a clear, slightly sweet liqueur with a complex, nutty flavor, derived from the cherry pits. In the Aviation cocktail, maraschino liqueur adds a subtle sweetness that complements the tartness of the lemon juice.

Crème de Violette

Crème de Violette, also known as violet liqueur, is made from the steeping of violet flowers in brandy with added sugar. It’s known for its vibrant purple color and delicate floral flavor. This liqueur was a common ingredient in classic cocktails but fell out of favor for decades before making a comeback in recent years. In the Aviation, crème de violette gives the cocktail its distinctive pale sky-blue color and adds a unique floral note.

Fresh Lemon Juice

The importance of fresh lemon juice in cocktails cannot be overstated. Bottled lemon juice can contain preservatives and additives that alter its taste, while fresh lemon juice provides a bright, crisp acidity that helps to balance out the sweetness of other ingredients. In the Aviation cocktail, lemon juice adds a refreshing tanginess that works in harmony with the gin’s sharpness and the subtle sweetness of the maraschino liqueur and crème de violette.

Food Pairings with the Aviation Cocktail

Based on the search results, there are several food pairings that work well with an Aviation cocktail.

  1. Cheese: Chevriou cheese is a great pairing as it brings out the floral notes in the cocktail. Another suggestion is to use Savannah Bee Company Honey for Cheese to enhance the flavor of any cheese you pair with the cocktail. The bright, crisp flavor of the honey complements the sweet and tart notes of the Aviation cocktail.
  2. Delicate Sweets: The Aviation cocktail pairs well with delicate sweets. This could include light pastries or subtly flavored desserts. The sweetness of these foods will balance the tartness of the cocktail, creating a harmonious flavor profile.
  3. Aviation Tart: An Aviation tart, inspired by the cocktail itself, combines a juniper and Luxardo crust, violet custard, and lemon curd, topped with cherry ice cream. This dessert not only complements the cocktail but also replicates its flavors, resulting in a perfect pairing.
  4. Galette des Rois: This almond cake works well when paired with an Aviation cocktail. The nutty, sweet flavors of the cake contrast with the fresh, tart notes of the cocktail, providing an enjoyable taste experience.
  5. Peanut-Butter-Infused Dishes: A peanut-butter-infused dish can be a surprising but successful pairing. The creamy, rich flavors of the peanut butter provide a nice counterpoint to the bright, crisp flavors of the Aviation cocktail.

These pairings work because they either complement or contrast with the flavors in the Aviation cocktail, which includes crème de violette, maraschino cherry liqueur, and lemon juice. Whether you’re enhancing the floral and fruit notes with cheese and honey, or contrasting them with rich, nutty flavors, these pairings will make your Aviation cocktail experience even more enjoyable.


In conclusion, the Aviation cocktail is not just a drink; it’s a piece of mixology history. Its unique blend of ingredients creates a flavor profile that is as captivating as its storied past. The Aviation is much more than gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice; it’s an experience that takes you back to a time when cocktail crafting was an art form.

The Aviation cocktail stands as a testament to the creativity and innovation that are hallmarks of the world of mixology. Its unique flavor profile, marked by a delicate balance of floral, sweet, and tart notes, has made it a favorite among cocktail enthusiasts around the globe.

So, whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or a curious beginner, I encourage you to delve into the world of the Aviation cocktail. Try making it at home or order it at your favorite bar and appreciate the unique flavors and rich history it has to offer. It’s not just a cocktail; it’s a journey through time, a celebration of the art of mixology, and most importantly, it’s a treat for the senses that shouldn’t be missed.

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