Shift Drink Saturday: The Aviation

Shift Drink Saturday: The Aviation

August 15, 2020

When a plane takes off it can fly for a long time but at some point, it needs to land and refuel, tis the arc of The Aviation cocktail.

The Brits Were Basically Obsessed with Gin

The Aviation first took flight in the early 20th century at the Hotel Wallick in New York and was created by Hugo Ensslin, head bartender at the time. Gin is the base spirit of this cocktail, which was quite popular in that space and era because of the common cross-Atlantic voyages that would bring Brits to and from New York. The British were basically obsessed with Gin and Americans quickly took a liking to it because of it’s fun, floral and lite flavor.

Bartenders Handshake

One part, popular hotel bar, one part popular spirit, one part great bartender and one part New York City is a great recipe for a classic cocktail to become incredibly popular amongst drinkers and shakers alike. Essentially a play on Gin Sour recipes at the time, this one had a rare ingredient called Crème-de-Viollete which gave it a wonderful purple hue which caught the attention of many.

This beautiful drink became one of the few sacred drinks referred to as a ‘bartenders handshake’; ordering one meant you had a particular knowledge of this refined craft.

Beyond the Dark Days, Back Again in the 90s

Gin and Aviations enjoyed popularity in the early 1900’s till prohibition hit and severely reduced many cocktails popularity especially if the spirit was not produced in the United States or Caribbean (moonshine and rum were the easiest spirits to get your hands on in those dark days). The flight of the Aviation was grounded for many decades until the 1990s. It was at this time when young bartenders were digging into the old cocktail recipes which the 1930 Savoy Cocktail book thankfully preserved. Refueled and ready for take off The Aviation took flight again but never really soared as high as it did in the early 1900s.

The Aviation Cocktail Recipe

The Aviation Recipe

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • Crème-de-Violette [see below]

As for the recipe, there are 2 prominent ways to make this. The original has a dash of Crème-de-Violette in it and the other does not. The reason for the difference is that Crème-de-Violette is hard to get your hands on and some say it adds too much of a floral punch to the drink. I really can’t argue with either school of thought, because I honestly like them both. A beautiful purple drink is rare to come by, but a balanced one on the palette is also essential. Either way, pour all the ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass. A fun way to do it that can add a bit of elegance is to add all the ingredients to the shaker EXCEPT the Violette which you can pour on the bottom of the glass and then add the shaken liquid on top. Garnish with a cherry or lemon twist. Please enjoy!

For more recipes and fun cocktail content check out my IG @myshiftdrink or my website


Sammy G

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