Aviation Cocktail

This classic cocktail uses several ingredients that are more difficult to find these days than 100 years ago - Creme de Violette and Maraschino Liqueur.  With the current craze for  cocktails, these classic cocktail ingredients are gaining popularity and can be found at a specialty liquor store or online. Creme de Violette, with its faint purple hue, was considered a ‘girl drink’ even back in the day, but in this cocktail, it is mixed with heartier spirits. Maraschino liquor, although it is from cherries, is surprisingly bitter, and is used in the Aviation Cocktail in that manner.


2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur
1/4 ounce Crème de Violette
Lemon twist, for garnish

Combine the gin, lemon juice and maraschino liqueur  in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake to chill well, then strain into a cocktail glass. Drizzle the Crème de Violette into the glass and garnish with a lemon twist
Where does the name, Aviation Cocktail come from? Well, we know that it was first published in the rediscovered guide by  Hugo Ensslin’s book Recipes for Mixed Drinks (1916).  But that does not tell us why it was given this curious name. Perhaps it is named after the aviation test.

Here’s a quote from the US Brewer’s Association, in a report published in  1917:

“If anyone doubts that a small quantity of alcohol can dull the brain let him try the military aviation test (standing on one foot with the eyes closed), first when his head is perfectly clear and then after he has taken a single cocktail or even a single glass of beer.  The difference in balancing power will be noticeable and, while it is true that many men entirely sober are unable to hold this unstable pose for the requisite two minutes, yet they certainly will hold it longer sober than when they have been drinking.  I tried this experiment one night on a group of convivial New Yorkers, with amusing results. “