Aviation Cocktail Recipe

5 from 8 votes
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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.

Aviation cocktail in a coupe glass on a kitchen counter.

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.

If you’re looking for more of my favorite Prohibition-era cocktails, try the Last Word cocktail, French 75, Bee’s Knees, Sidecar cocktail, and Sazerac (for my whiskey lovers).

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.

Ingredients

Aviation cocktail Ingredients on a cutting board.
  • 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

Step 1.

Combine gin, lemon, maraschino liqueur, and Creme dè Violette in a cocktail shaker with a generous cup of ice.

Aviation cocktail ingredients in a shaker with ice.
Shaking an Aviation cocktail with a Boston shaker.

Step 2.

Shake vigorously for 15 seconds and double strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Double straining an Aviation cocktail into a chilled coupe glass.

Step 3.

Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.

Aviation cocktail in a coupe glass on a kitchen counter garnished with a Luxardo cherry.

Expert Tips

  • 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

Are there any substitutes maraschino liqueur and Creme dè Violette?

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.

Are Luxardo cherries worth the price?

There is nothing like a Luxardo cherry. While certainly expensive, the richness and flavor is unmatched. A small jar will last quite a while.

What gin do you recommend?

I like Aviation Gin, Plymouth Gin, and The Botanist Islay Dry Gin for this cocktail.

More Gin Cocktails

Enjoy this recipe? If you made this recipe, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!
5 from 8 votes

Aviation Cocktail Recipe

Servings: 1 cocktail
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
The Aviation is of my all time favorite classic cocktails from the early 1900’s. Gin, maraschino liqueur (cherry), Crème de Violette, and fresh lemon juice.

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

Always double-strain shaken cocktails through a fine mesh strainer. This removes tiny ice chips that will dilute the cocktail as it warms.
This cocktail is best served in a small coupe glass. It makes for a fantastic presentation given the drink’s history and age.
There are a few different makers of both maraschino liqueur and Creme dè Violette, Luxardo and Rothman & 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 160kcalCarbohydrates: 12.4gProtein: 0.1gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 4mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 12.3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cocktail
Cuisine: American
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About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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17 Comments

  1. Tried this for the 1st time last year I’m in Nashville Tennessee and I have purchased all the ingredients in a tin to make myself one today I like Gen. But not in my dirty martinis there I use the hammer and sickle vodka it is the best vodka on the market . Gray goose and Ciroc cannot compare to it