Friday Happy Hour: The Aviation

Today’s cocktail, the Aviation, involves an obscure but fascinating liqueur – Creme de Violette, which went out of production following Prohibition but recently resurfaced.  This is a really interesting drink, not like anything I’d had before.  It’s sour and sweet with a strong hint of almond from the Maraschino liqueur (made from Marasca cherries and their pits), and a floral finish from the Creme de Violette (literally flowery – the Creme de Violette is made from violets).  It also has the really unique color of a cloudy blue sky, from which I’m sure it got its name.

This is a drink that could star in its own soap opera.  A hit before the First World War, it disappeared in the 1920s and was replaced by another cocktail masquerading under the same name, only to reappear years later with no memory of where it had been all that time.  Ok, so maybe I’m overselling it a bit, but this fantastic drink has a really interesting history.

Read below for the full recipe!

The Aviation

2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Creme de Violette

Combine and shake over ice, then strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a cherry and enjoy.


The first mention of the Aviation was in 1911, when flying still had a tremendous air of glamor, adventure, and sophistication (some things have not been improved by progress).  But, by 1930, the Aviation appeared in recipe guides missing an ingredient: the Creme de Violette.  What happened?  Prohibition.  I suspect Creme de Violette was just too obscure an ingredient to justify the risk of smuggling it in from Europe.  Everyone seems to have forgotten that it was ever part of the recipe.  Recipes have described the impostor for decades, and it has been impossible to enjoy a true Aviation.

Until now!  A few years ago, Haus Alpenz started importing a Creme de Violette by Rothman and Winter from Austria, and suddenly all sorts of vanished drinks started reappearing.  This Creme de Violette is a rich dark purple that gives the drink its color and sweet, floral finish.

The Maraschino liqueur and, especially, the Creme de Violette may be hard to find in a lot of places.  Keep looking!  It’s worth it.

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