Sometimes I like to have pretty cocktails, but I don’t want to go through a lot of effort with garnishes or layering colors. So what I settle on is just finding a cocktail with a singular pretty color.
For me, one of the prettiest drinks is the Aviation. It has a gorgeous pale violet color that can be clear or be opaque, depending on whether it’s shaken or stirred.
The Aviation is also interesting because of its origin story.
The history of the Aviation
This drink was created by Hugo Ensslin, a bar tender working at the Hotel Wallick in New York City. The recipe was printed in 1917 in the last cocktail recipe book published just before the Prohibition.
The cocktail featured Crème de Violette, which gave it its signature hue. Crème de Violette is a syrupy licqueur derived from violet flowers, sugar, and spices. A little goes a long way due to the floral notes and its sweetness.
The recipe was printed again years later by a different bartender without the Crème de Violette and it became a wholly different drink.
In the 1990s, bar tenders stated going through old cocktail manuals and rediscovered many classics. Paul Harrington was one of the first to rediscover and he reprinted the recipe in his 1998 book, Cocktail.
When it was initially rediscovered, the Aviation again did not include Crème de Violette. At the time, it was difficult to get this ingredient in the US. And so the drink gained some mysterious quality, where people were just curious for a taste. Add to that its pre-prohibition era allure, and it became even more trendy.
In 2006, Crème de Violette became easier to find and so it exploded in popularity. Then in 2012, a review declared that the Aviation tasted like “hand soap.” Then with the trend away from prohibition style drinks, the Aviation suddenly had overstayed its welcome.
Why is it called an Aviation?
There are mixed theories here, but the one that is commonly referenced is that the Crème de Violette gives the cocktail a pale sky-blue color. Depending on the type of Crème de Violette used and the amount, this may or may not be true!
Other say that the cocktail was created when pilots were popular and so it was named for the profession.
The Booze Free Aviation
The iconic pre-Prohibition era cocktail is so easy to make with booze free ingredients! You'll get a tart drink with a pale purple hue that is super romantic for date night.
2 oz Wilderton Earthen
.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
.75 oz Drycraft Crème de Violette
2 tsp Kyohou Grape Honey
1 Maraschino cherry
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Add ice to chill coupe glass.
Add ice to chill the mixing glass until frosted. Discard the ice.
Add all ingredients to the mixing glass, then add more ice and stir for 10 seconds.
Discard ice from the coupe glass. Pour cocktail from mixing glass to the coupe glass, using the Julep strainer to hold back the ice.
Garnish with a maraschino cherry.