The Aviation Cocktail

The Aviation is a classic cocktail that now lives a life of relative web 2.0 anonymity.  A search on Wikipedia will link you directly to the general cocktail page, which doesn’t do anyone much good as the page doesn’t even list a recipe.  Thankfully my reference books had a few recipes and my fellow cocktail bloggers have done their experiments as well so I have a good starting point for the week.

Wright Flyer

The first recipe for the Aviation to see print was in Hugo Ensslin’s book Recipes for Mixed Drinks printed in 1916.  I, sadly, do not have a copy, but Erik came to the rescue by posting the recipe on his site.

Aviation Cocktail (Original Recipe)
1/3 Lemon Juice
2/3 El Bart Gin
2 Dashes Maraschino
2 Dashes Creme de Violette
Shake well in a mixing glass with cracked ice, strain and serve.

Now, I’m guessing the first thing that popped in to your head is “What the hell is El Bart Gin?” I know it was certainly the first thing in mine.  From what I can best ascertain its a long gone brand of Dry Gin.  About all that can be found on the net these days about it is sales of new tin signs and news about the sale of a mint condition antique sign that went for $60,500 at auction.  I think its safe to assume though that El-Bart was one of Ensslin’s favorite gins as it is called for in some of his other recipes as well.  Following that my second question was in reference to just what exactly Creme de Violette is.  In doing a bit of reading in Vintage Cocktails and Spirits and online I had my answer.  Creme de Violette is the name given to a group of French liqueurs whos main source of flavoring and coloring is violets.

Creme de Violette is a touch hard to find in some areas in the US as there is only one importer (Haus Alpenz), and one brand being imported (Rothman & Winter).  I’ve checked one local liquor store, but no luck there.  I plan to do some more extensive searching tomorrow.  An interesting note is that due to the relative scarcity of this liqueur in the US most modern recipes you’ll find don’t list it as an ingredient at all.  For example below is Regan’s recipe from The Joy of Mixology.

Aviation (Joy of Mixology)
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

I’ve certainly got a full week ahead of me and I can honestly say I’m really looking forward to it.





10 responses to “The Aviation Cocktail”

  1. uberbeasley Avatar

    Although it does use Maraschino liqueur – not exactly something I pick up at the local booze-emporium.

    This is a cocktail that is quite interesting – and I’m very glad you have looked into it.

    Personally, the version using the maraschino produces and effect almost identical to eating a cherry (or red flavor) pixie stick. Down to the slight metallic tang. But – and I cannot stress this enough – it is VERY sensitive to the ratios. A bit too much maraschino … wow. What a vile concoction.

    I await your analysis of the version using violets. This is new to me – and I’m quite intrigued.

    Cheers Gents!

  2. Dan Avatar

    This is absolutely one of my favorite cocktails and I’m glad you’ve given it it’s own article!

    One thing you’ll notice is that there are huge differences between different brands of maraschino liqueur. I prefer Luxardo to the rest, but Maraska is good, too. I’d say away from the Stock maraschino, it’s fairly dull and a little too sweet.

    Here’s how I make mine.

    2oz gin
    1oz lemon juice
    .5oz maraschino liqueur
    tiny dash o’ simple syrup

    Creme de Voilette is nearly impossible to find ><

  3. eas Avatar

    You’ll find the Creme de Violette in many states, but not everywhere. Best bet is to order online, go to, or, or I subscribe to and it really helps me find the goods I need for my cocktail bar at home.

  4. Reese Avatar

    Dan -> Thanks for the recipe. I’ll be sure to give that one a try. As for Maraschino, I have a bottle of Luxardo, so I’ll be using that for my sampling this week.

    EAS -> Thanks for the tips on where to get Creme de Violette. I checked the four largest liquor stores in my area yesterday and came up empty.

  5. […] gustaría hablar hoy de otro clásico, el Aviation, me ha gustado mucho el post que ha realizado un compañero bloggero, cocktail hacker, en el que nos cuenta la historia de esta […]

  6. […] Next I decided to try a recipe posted by Dan in the comments on my initial Aviation post. […]

  7. Benjamin Avatar

    I’ve fallen in love with the Aviation Cocktail. Sadly, attaining the ingredients for many classic cocktails in the land of Cheese and Beer requires a trip to Sam’s in Chicago. The one thing I’ve noted in creating this cocktail is that a little Creme de Violette can go a long, long way. I believe the first recipe mentioned has an excellent ratio. Others have suggested as much as one Tsp which is too much in my opinion. All I know is that an Aviation sans Creme de Violette is a shame…

    The resurgence in classic cocktails in Wisconsin, and Madison in particular, has been lead in large part by a micro-distillery in Madison, WI – Death’s Door Spirits. Their gin, a pre-prohibition style gin (sweeter gin) mixes as well as any Gin I’ve tried in classic cocktails. I certainly check them out if you get a chance!

  8. Boss Lady Avatar

    I have a bottle of creme de violette at my restaurant bar. I picked it up, along with Luxardo marachino liquor at Park Avenue Liquors online. If you live in NY they will ship to you. Creme de yvette, a recently revived liquor that is the quintessential creme de violette I think is harder to find. If your lucky enough to get some, try making a Blue Moon.

    2 jiggers Bombay Sapphire (or your favorite gin)
    1/2 jigger creme de violette
    half of a juiced lemon

    shake with ice, strain into a martini glass, and float a lemon wheel on top.

  9. Derek Avatar

    Recent mixologist did a Blue Moon with vodka and worked well

  10. Gonzales Avatar

    My favourite spec’ for the Aviation :

    50ml Bombay Sapphire
    25ml Fresh Lemon juice
    10ml Luxardo Maraschino
    5ml Bitter Truth ‘creme de violet’