Aviation blog 2  
Photo by Donna
Last spring, stopping by the best bar in the world, I tried a new cocktail, The Aviation, and was immediately enamored with the grappa-like cherry notes that a marachino liqueur brought to this gin based elixer.

And it couldn't be more easy: gin, fresh lemon juice and, to balance the acidity, the Luxardo.  Here's the bar's owner, Paulius, on this long neglected drink:

"There is an ongoing battle as to
which version is the real deal.  The
difference in the 2 variants of the
Aviation is the addition, or lack of,
Crème de Violette.  My take on
it is this:  I think it is gilding the lily
.  But that may change if
the idiots that run Ohio liquor control in Columbus would allow it in.
(Apparently, the state sees no use or market
for it.) The addition of the Violette
makes the cocktail softer, with an
additional floral note. It also gives
it a faint lavender hue that you may
or may not see in bar lighting.
 I suppose that is important if you use a
cocktail as an accessory.
Myself, I prefer the sharp crispness of the Aviation sans violette.

The Aviation:
2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liquer
1/4 oz. Creme de Violette, if
you are of that school.  (aka crème de Yvette)

I personally think that equal measures of lemon and Luxardo result in too much sharpness and so add 50% more Luxardo.  This is not the same issue as how much vermouth should be in a martini, this is really about the sweet-sour balance, the Luxardo acting as both a simple syrup and a flavoring device.

As for the gin.  A year or more ago, some kind soul at Hendrick's sent me a bottle of their gin. I don't really review products here, but this gin superb, especially here and my choice for the beloved negroni as well.

I'm not the first to write about it by any means (here's a longer piece on all its parts), but I was thrilled to taste it for the first time.  When Friday evening's writer's block strikes, I'm thinking a cold Aviation will taste exactly right.


45 Wonderful responses to “Cocktail: The Aviation”

  • David

    I am a huge fan of this cocktail and have been making it for myself at home for about 2 years now. The Luxardo Maraschino Liquer gives the drink a subtle sweetness and nuttiness that I love. I also agree with having a bit more Luxardo than lemon juice as the Luxardo is what makes the drink special. Too much lemon juice and you should just have a Tom Collins! 🙂 The Aviation is probably my number two or three drink behind a traditional Manhattan and a homemade concoction of Gin, Chambord and lemonjuice.

  • carri

    I’ve been obsessing about the Velvet Tango Room ever since your earlier post…now that I finally get to go, I am obsessing over what I will drink! This could be a contender for sure…

  • Richard

    *Hendricks* and, yes, it is sublime. Am looking forward to adding this cocktail to my list.

  • Matthew Kayahara

    The Aviation is a great drink!

    A quick note, though: Luxardo is actually the name of the manufacturer, and they also make a variety of other liqueurs and amari. The liqueur in the Aviation is called simply “maraschino,” and a creditable version is also made by a company called Maraska.

    (For that matter, crème de violette and crème Yvette are not *quite* the same thing, but that’s a whole ‘nother level of cocktail geekery.)

  • Spencer K

    I believe this weekend maybe the weekend that I start to mix cocktails at home. Why not start with this one? =D

  • KD

    Great post. A couple comments:

    Creme Yvete is not the same as Creme de Violette. See this recent article in Imbibe for additional info. “The influence of the berries and vanilla, and a more viscous mouthfeel, set it apart in terms of taste from the more violet-dominated Crème de Violette already on the market.”

    I enjoy an Aviation on occasion, and certainly prefer the version with Violette, however if I were to leave it out, I’d add some yellow chartreuse and have a variant on The Last Word.

    I can’t say that I prefer Hendricks in these drinks (or a negroni). In all of the above I’d pick Tanqueray or Beefeater (or the fine American Gin by Leopold Brothers). Hendrick’s is a fine gin, but I find it more at home in drinks with a vegetal note, such as a simple gin and tonic with the agave sweetened Q Tonic, a cucumber collins or The Violet Hour’s magnificent Juliet & Romeo.

  • Darcie

    @carri – when you get to VTR, try the Ramos Gin Fizz if it’s on the menu. It’s awesome too.

    Actually every drink there is wonderful. Take a taxi so you can sample more!

  • André

    I’ve been frequenting the VTR for almost 10 years now. And the Aviation, since it’s introduction at the VTR, has been my go-to cocktail. However, I must admit that the Moscow Mule (Thanks, Roy!) and the new(?) VTR Sidecar (Thanks, Jen!) are making a solid run for the crown!

  • Walt

    Nice post Michael, If only I wasn’t sitting at my desk…

    I’m with KD, I love Henricks gin but in tonic or as a martini. I think the cucumber hides away when mixed with less than neutral flavors. I’ll try this tonight with Hendricks and Plymouth side to side. We’ll call it taking one for the team.

    I have no Violette but do have some homemade lavender bitters. Maybe the extra luxardo will help keep the bitters in check while still allowing some of the floral notes through.


  • Adrienne

    Oh, this is perfect! After searching for Maraschino liqueur for MONTHS, I finally found a bottle of luxardo a couple of weeks ago. Why it’s so hard to buy in Boston I couldnt’ tell you, but I also happen to have a surplus of gin around the house at the moment. I can’t wait to try this!

  • Cali

    Ruhlman, were you drunk when you wrote this, or have you just stopped proofreading?

  • NWCajun

    Try a splash of Hendricks in a Pimm’s Cup. The cucumber really shines. It’s only 10:30AM out here in the west and now I’m jones’n for an Aviation. A little attention to time zones would be greatly appreciated.

  • Jennifer Hess

    Love the Aviation – it’s in our regular rotation. We usually mix with Beefeater.

    Adrienne – have you tried BRIX? They tend to stock the more hard-to-find spirits.

    KD – My husband mixed up a Juliet and Romeo for the first time recently, and WOW what a great drink. Pretty, too.

  • Victoria

    There’s a great liquor store, Bottle & Soul, on Lexington between 81st and 82nd in NYC. If Adam doesn’t have what you want, he will get it for you in no time flat. I wanted to try one of Hemingway’s daiquiris, christened the Papa Doble, which calls for Marashino liqueur. Sure enough, Adam had Luxardo in stock so now I have it on my shelf.

    As soon as I get back to NY after Labor Day, I am going to try this drink. But my (and Sir Winston’s) gin of choice is Plymouth. M.R., I suggest you try it; you will probably like it. I like Hendrick’s too but only if a slice of cucumber is floating in it!

    I have never heard of Creme de Violette. I will have to check it out.

  • ruhlman

    jonathan, i haven’t found a great source and ohio’s got really odd liquor laws. can’t buy eau de vie here, as far as i can tell.

    and re: gin. I too am a fan of Plymouth. I like that and beefeater for martinis.

  • lkw

    I tried an Aviation at a place here in Denver called Steuben’s. Loved it so much I just ordered a bottle of creme de violette off the internet – couldn’t find it around Denver.

  • KD

    Anyone in states with poor liquor availability, I highly recommend checking out Drink Up NY. They ship pretty much anywhere, and it’s free if you spend $100. Their prices can be a bit higher than, say, Sam’s on some things, but on others they are cheaper. And, free shipping is a great deal.

  • gkoenig

    The Aviation with Creme de Violette is actually called a Blue Moon, a drink that pre-dates the Aviation by a few years. As per the histories I have read, the Aviation got it’s name from being the signature cocktail on Pan Am clipper ships – dropping the Creme de Violette brought the onboard bottle count down and allowed them to make a signature drink.

  • luis

    Kudos brother. Most folks think of hard liquor as an alchool delivery system, not as a flavor and fragrance vehicle.
    For flavor you can not beat wine. Beer well… is for the young whips…

  • Karin from Cleve and missing it in VA

    Missed your original post back then – I had not discovererd this blog yet.

    Knew Paul at the VTR when he was a busboy at the old Rusty Scupper, back when we were all young and living other (crazy!) lives.

    I had heard about his foray into the Cleve food scene but not of his sucess – I’ve been gone a long time!

    Just another reason why I keep telling everyone that I’m from Cleveland.

    We have so much of what others look for in bigger cities. It is both a shame and a gift that we still have it mostly to ourselves.

    Great post about the joy of a cocktail. I wish I could enjoy Gin!

  • allen

    Luis, beer has it’s place as well; smoked meats, pastrami, green chile cheeseburgers gotsta have beer. I am seeking out the Luxardo Maraschino Liquer, we had a bartender in Seattle at the Metropolitan grill tell us about the Hendrick’s gin and turned us on to some fine sipping rum from his native Venezuela called Ron Pompero – good stuff and there are quite a few good sipping rums out there.
    I have never seen the Creme de Violette, but there is something called Saint Germaine with floral notes and a good plum sake made by Momokawa in Forest Grove Oregon that is great for adding the fufi notes and about 1/2 the cost.
    I also love a negroni and thought I was the only one on the planet that liked them, another great pairing is a hint of smokey scotch like Laphroig instead of vermouth paired with a smoked gouda cheese stuffed olive, and some Snoop Doggs gin and juice with lotsa bass – I’m sippi’n on gin and juice….

  • cleek

    yeah, i love Hendrick’s, too.

    i’ve been making High Sages with it for the last week or so (Hendrick’s, prosecco, sage-infused simple syrup and cucumber slices).

    the Aviation sounds delicious. i’ll have to see if we can even get Luxardo here in NC.

  • KD


    I can’t find any recipes for a Blue Moon cocktail that include Maraschino (they say Gin, Violette and Lemon juice). So, there’d be no difference in the number of bottles required to make a Blue Moon vs. a Violette-less Aviation.

    I’d image the story regarding Pan Am’s bottle count is apocryphal. It may have roots in Charles Baker’s renaming a Jack Rose-like cocktail that had been originally dubbed the Aviation to the Pan American Clipper Cocktail. Neither of these were anything like what we now call an Aviation.

  • Sean P.

    A distillery in Portland, OR makes a gin that’s supposedly designed for this drink. It’s called, of course, Aviation Gin.

    I have not tried an aviation made with this gin, as I am too much of a cheapskate to pay Washington’s ridiculous liquor prices. Anyone else have a verdict?

  • Chuck

    “The Aviation with Creme de Violette is actually called a Blue Moon”

    Actually no … a Blue Moon lacks the Maraschino. It’s just gin, lemon juice and Crème Yvette (or Crème de Violette). It’s a lovely drink itself, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a bottle of the newly resurrected Yvette to try it that way — we’ve been doing it with violette for years, and I’ve never had the “original.”

  • luis

    Out of context.. two or three blogs back… but I am making some progress in turning out my dream B.L.T. bun… I see how Michael got the bun he got. Although mine is still far from perfect. Next few days I will turn out a few more batches and see how they turn out.

  • Alexa

    Thank you for this post. I am addicted to gin based drinks and do like Hendricks sometimes in the summer for the flowery notes it gives, but my preference is for the king of gins – Plymouth at all other times of year.

  • deana

    Not being much of a gin drinker, I made the Aviator with Prosecco. It was absolutely delicious and we named it “The Aviatrix”.

  • Sharon Miro

    Came to see the mussels, and stayed for the Hendricks! I first tried that gin in bar/restaurant in NY called Whym—it was lovely–makes a very fragrant and user friendly Gimlet. I am gonna try that Aviation soon. Try a Gin tasting sometime soon. 1/2 oz shot-glass pours of 2 or 3 “frozen” gins. Yummy. Frozen gin is a tradition at my house before big Sunday dinners. For some strange reason, you don’t get drunk and can eat a whole lot more than normal afterwards!

  • MJ

    I hate to be one of those annoying people who changes the recipe, but we are out of gin and I’m having a hard time liking it right now. BUT this was delicious with Patron silver – the lemon/maraschino is a very enjoyable fresh, not overly-sweet (die Cosmo die!!) combo.

  • Judi Gentry

    An earlier post is correct, Drink Up NY will ship free if your order is $100 or more and they have both the Luxardo Maraschino and Rothman & Winter Creme de Violette; I ordered them from this company and both are sitting on my shelf now. I live in Ohio also & the internet has opened up a wonderful source for items that our state refuses to allow to be sold here. Where was that ridiculous rule ever dreamed up anyway? I can’t wait to try an Aviation, I’ll have to get some Hendrick’s first though. Judi