Aviation Cocktail Recipe
Feb 16, 2017, Updated Aug 15, 2023
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The Aviation cocktail, born during the golden era of mixology, is a true gem that has stood the test of time. It bares a slight violet hue and it’s nothing short of amazing. I love this cocktail because it’s delicious, unique, and perfectly balanced.
The Aviation is a Prohibition-era martini, consisting of gin, maraschino liqueur (cherry liqueur), Crème de Violette, and fresh lemon juice. The cocktail is said to have been created by Hugo Ensslin, who at the time was head bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York City.
The Aviation was first published in Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. The ingredients have remained the same with only slight variations in the parts. Since then, it has become a staple in bars and cocktail lounges around the world.
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Why This Cocktail Works
When mixed properly, the Aviation strikes a perfect balance between sweet, tart, and floral. The gin provides a strong backbone, while the maraschino liqueur adds a touch of sweetness and complexity. The lemon juice brings a refreshing tang that cuts through the richness, and the Crème de Violette ties it all together with its delicate floral aroma.
- Gin: look for a classic dry gin. I like Plymouth Gin or Aviation Gin.
- Maraschino liqueur: a clear, sweet liqueur with a distinctive cherry flavor. It is made from Marasca cherries. Luxardo is my favorite brand.
- Crème de Violette: also known as violet liqueur, is a sweet, floral liqueur made from violet flowers. I like Rothman & Winter.
- Fresh lemon juice: always opt for freshly squeezed lemon over concentrates. If you must use a concentrate, look for ReaLemon.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.
How to Make an Aviation Cocktail
Combine gin, lemon, maraschino liqueur, and Creme dè Violette in a cocktail shaker with a generous cup of ice.
Shake vigorously for 15 seconds and double strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.
- Chill your glasses ahead of time in the freezer to keep your drinks cooler for longer. This is one of my favorite tricks in the summer.
- This cocktail is best served in a small coupe glass. It makes for a fantastic presentation given the drink’s history and age.
- Always double-strain shaken cocktails through a fine mesh strainer. This removes tiny ice chips that will dilute the cocktail as it warms.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a few different makers of both maraschino liqueur and Creme dè Violette, Luxardo and Rothman u0026 Winter are probably the two most common brands. Both liqueurs are very distinct in terms of flavor and I’d be hard-pressed to list any reliable alternatives to either.
There is nothing like a Luxardo cherry. While certainly expensive, the richness and flavor is unmatched. A small jar will last quite a while.
I like Aviation Gin, Plymouth Gin, and The Botanist Islay Dry Gin for this cocktail.
Enjoy this recipe? If you made this recipe, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!
Aviation Cocktail Recipe
- 1 1/2 ounces gin, I like Aviation Gin or Plymouth Gin
- 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 ounces maraschino liqueur, Luxardo
- 1/4 ounce Crème de Violette
- Luxardo cherry, for garnish
- Combine gin, lemon, maraschino liqueur, and Creme dè Violette in a cocktail shaker with a generous cup of ice.
- Shake vigorously for 10 seconds and double strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.