The Aviation

I’m such a damned sucker for pretty cocktails. Add in a dash of historic lore and a lovely lavender chicken, and I’m done. So done.


The Aviation is widely recognized as a prohibition-era concoction, invented by Hugo Ensslin as first published in his 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. The drink rested its pretty laurels on the Crème de Violette liqueur that gives it its magical lavender-blue hue, but in 1930, the renowned Savoy Cocktail Book published the recipe and dropped the violet liqueur. Let the cocktail controversy ensue: whether the liqueur was accidentally omitted, or left out do to post-prohibition shortages of what was a scare liqueur even pre-prohibition, there are two sides of the fence. You either do your Aviation violet, or you don’t. And people get cranky about it. Which I love.

I think you know what side of the fence I’m on. And by ‘on’ I mean four cocktails in and probably unable to climb back over.

I’ve been wanting to make an Aviation for quite sometime, but as springtime sprung and the violets popped up in my garden, there was fresh wind in my sails. Three sheets, to be exact. Not only did I want to make this cocktail, I wanted to make my own Crème de Violette liqueur with the gosh-darned gorgeous violets cropping up in my yard. Garden-fresh, people!


Until I realized they were the wrong kind of violet. Sad trombone. These happen to be Australian violets (Viola hederacea). The kind you need are Sweet Violet (Viola odorata). So. My seeds are ordered. But just in case you have the right kind of violets and the initiative, here’s how you make Crème de Violette at home:

  • 3 cups washed, stemless violet blossoms
  • 1 750 ml bottle of Vodka
  • 3/4 cup simple syrup

Put the blossoms in a jar, and add the vodka. Seal and store at room temperature in a dark place. Give it a shake a few times a day to stir things up. After a week, strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a new jar, and add the simple syrup, mix, and seal. Store in a cool dry place. Recipe adapted from The Cocktail Professor.

Or, you can skip all that and buy this.


To make one Aviation cocktail:

  • 1.5 oz. gin (we love St. George Spirits’ Botanivore Gin)
  • .5 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. maraschino liqueur (Luxardo, yo!)
  • 1/4 oz. Crème de Violette
  • maraschino cherry (or three) for garnish, and maybe a drop of the maraschino juice, if you want yours a little sweeter (if it’s cherry season, make your own like these, or else use Luxardo cherries)
  • several edible blossoms for garnish if you’re feeling fancy (such as violets, pansies, lavender)

In a cocktail coupe or martini glass, place a single maraschino cherry in the bottom, and a dash of maraschino syrup if you like things a little sweeter. In a cocktail shaker, add gin, juice, and liqueurs, ice, and then shake thoroughly for 30 seconds. Strain into your glass, and add garnish.

There. I feel fancier, don’t you?



Sometimes you have to wrestle the garnish away from the chicken. Please remember to garnish and chicken responsibly.