It’s hard to believe that the Aviation has been served for over 100 years, since for most of that time, it was virtually unknown. Now, you can find it on many cocktail menus, and certainly ask for it by name at most upscale cocktail lounges. I was introduced to the Aviation by Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh in his 2004 book, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails : From the Alamagoozlum Cocktail to the Zombie. At the time, it took a lot of rigmarole tracking down both the Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, and the Crème de violette. However, from the first taste, I was hooked.
The key to me, is the violet liqueur. Without it, it is an average drink that feels unbalanced and slightly tart. The Crème de violette (do not use Crème Yvette, as the vanilla flavor really interferes with the overall flavor) adds just the right amount of florality and sweetness to keep the woodiness of the maraschino in check and open up the lemon juice to be more than just a souring agent.
The drink was first published in 1916, in Recipes for Mixed Drinks by Times Square’s Hotel Wallick’s head bartender, Hugo Ensslin. German born Hugo was highly influential on the skills of latter-day mixologists like Harry Craddock and Patrick Gavin Duffy. In fact, Hugo’s book was the last cocktail book published in New York before Prohibition took hold. One wonders what Hugo did for a living afterwards.
0.5oz maraschino liqueur
0.25oz lemon juice
0.25oz creme de violette
garnish: maraschino cherry
Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry.