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Aviation Cocktail – Great Gatsby-Inspired Friday

The Aviation Cocktail

With the opening this weekend of Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Great Gatsby’ remake, it seems appropriate to serve up a Prohibition-era cocktail that is visually dazzling – The Aviation Cocktail. This jewel-toned cocktail is made of gin, fresh lemon juice, maraschino liqueur and créme de violette.

The History of The Aviation Cocktail

The recipe for The Aviation cocktail was first seen in the 1917 book Recipes for Mixed Drinks, written by the New York City bartender Hugo Ensslin. This was the last bartending guide published in New York before Prohibition began. 

One of the key ingredients of The Aviation, créme de violette, is a violet-flavored liqueur made with violet flowers found in the Alps. It has a beautiful lavender hue and a delicate perfume. Widely available in the U.S. before Prohibition, it became a forgotten spirit until the recent cocktail revival. With committed mixologists digging up old, forgotten cocktail ingredients, some of these old spirits started being reimported back to the U.S. after a long absence. As a result, creme de violette has become available in larger U.S. markets and has become popular as an ingredient in classic pre-Prohibition cocktails such as the Blue Moon, and the Aviation. Now, with the return of créme de violette to the U.S. market, we can enjoy the original Ensslin recipe.

Aviation Cocktail ingredients - Gin, Creme de Violette and Maraschino Liqueur
The Aviation cocktail ingredients – gin, créme de violette and maraschino liqueur

The Aviation Cocktail (original Ensslin)

1 1/2 oz dry gin
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp maraschino liqueur
1/2 oz. créme de violette

 Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

The Aviation Cocktail (Hungry Again adapted)

2 oz gin (I used Bols Genever)
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
2 tsps. maraschino liqueur
2 tsps. créme de violette

Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Another cocktail, very close to the Aviation, is the Blue Moon Cocktail. You just leave out the maraschino liqueur and change the ratio of lemon juice to créme de violette. If you are interested, you can find a more extensive history of the Aviation and the Blue Moon in Ted Haigh’s cocktail guide, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.

Blue Moon Cocktail

2 oz dry gin 
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz créme de violette

Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass.




This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Lovely! I like your adaptation. You should chat with the bartenders at Pinewood who make a nice Aviation too.

  2. I still have not broken down and bought the Creme Yvette. Looks lovely, though.

    I have to say this is a cocktail that’s tricky for me in the proportions. Sometimes it comes together perfectly, sometimes the lemon’s not balanced out.

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