Aviation Cocktail Recipe

aviation cocktailThe Aviation is a classic cocktail made with gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice. Some recipes omit the crème de violette. It is served straight up, in a cocktail glass.

The Aviation was created by Hugo Ensslin, head bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York, in the early twentieth century. The first published recipe for the drink appeared in Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. Ensslin’s recipe called for 1½ oz. El Bart gin, ¾ oz. lemon juice, 2 dashes maraschino liqueur, and 2 dashes crème de violette, a violet liqueur which gives the cocktail a pale purple color. Omitting the cherry liquor changes the drink into a blue moon which is a grey color.

Harry Craddock’s influential Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) omitted the crème de violette, calling for a mixture of two-thirds dry gin, one-third lemon juice, and two dashes of maraschino. Many later bartenders have followed Craddock’s lead, leaving out the difficult-to-find violet liqueur.

Last weekend I had a few friends over for cocktails. Now, my friends know that I have a well-stocked bar and a relatively strong knowledge of classic cocktails, but I’ve never made an Aviation at home; Crème de violette is such a single function drink modifier in my mind that it hasn’t been worth storing on the shelf for the one or two Aviation cocktails that I might make every few months.

Well, that has changed now. This was a small gathering of a friends from a few different social circles, and I had three people independently ask if I could make an Aviation. I’ve enjoyed an Aviation at a bar on occasion, but it must be making its way into the mainstream cocktail drinkers’ consciousness because I’ve never had anyone ask me to make one before. Congratulations, Aviation, you are now on pace with the Pisco Sour, the Boulevardier, and the Vesper.

Aviation Cocktail

  • 2 oz. gin
  • ½ oz. Maraschino Liqueur
  • ¼ oz. Crème de violette (Crème Yvette is an acceptable substitute)
  • ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • Cherry garnish (optional)


Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry if desired.

Photo by Adrian Scottow from London, England