The Aviation

TASTE cocktails’ new kit for June is “The Aviation” – a gorgeous early 20th century recipe which blends sweet, sour and floral notes in a gloriously blue drink. Check back in with this blog later in the month for more on Blackdown Gin, The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur and St Germain Elderflower Liqueur, which also feature in the kit.

The History of The Aviation Cocktail

The Aviation is a classic gin based cocktail which is shaken and served straight up. Very similar to a Gin sour, it also combines maraschino liqueur to balance sour with sweet, and most versions use violet liqueur for a floral touch and a subtle blue hue. It is said that the cocktail was named after the sky-blue colour is takes on when a few dashes of violet are added. Some bartenders these days add much more and turn it entirely purple instead.

The Aviation first appeared in in print in Hugo R. Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks.

Aviation Cocktail from Hugo Ensslin Recipe from Recipes for Mixed Drinks 1916


Ensslin was the head bartender at Hotel Wallick in New York in the early 20th century, and although it’s not certain who created it, seeing as the first publication of the recipe was in his own book he is usually credited as the inventor.

These were the early years of aviation, and was coincidentally the same year that the first British airline company, Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd. was registered, and they went on to become the first airline to operate a regular international flight (between London and Paris).

The Savoy Cocktail BookBecause Crème de Violette wasn’t widely distributed around prohibition and the world wars, many of the later recipes omitted it as a key ingredient. When the Aviation Cocktail was published in Harry Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book it appeared without the Crème de Violette.

The original Aviation cocktail is a delicious fusion of citrus and floral notes, not too sweet and a good balance of alcohol.

The Aviation Cocktail

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Recipe for the Aviation Cocktail (Hugo Ensslin’s version)

  • 1/3 Lemon Juice
  • 2/3 El Bart Gin
  • 2 dashes of Maraschino
  • 2 dashes Crème de Violette

Recipe for the Aviation Cocktail (Harry Craddock’s version)

  • 1/3 Lemon Juice
  • 2/3 Dry Gin
  • 2 dashes of Maraschino

For both recipes: Shake well in a mixing glass with cracked ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or a lemon twist.

In the mood for an aviation, but don’t have all the ingredients? Check out our Aviation Cocktail kit for a way to TASTE a few recipes without breaking the bank.

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