The Aviation Cocktail – A Stunner!

The Aviation Cocktail
The Aviation Cocktail

The first time I had an Aviation was after I had a great gym workout, biked 50 miles (occasionally I’m fit), taken a rapid shower and driven about an hour to Local 188 (recommended) in Portland Maine to meet Soccer Chick.

We’d been trying to get together for a while, and since my schedule isn’t exactly conducive to relationships, when she texted “what r u doing” I replied “where r u?” and headed on up.

I got there first, ordered my first Aviation Cocktail ever, and by the time she arrived was nearly melting into a couch while waiting for funky appetizers to arrive.

She thinks most food I eat is strange, so we also got a flatbread pizza and some mediocre lightish craft beer for her. As you can guess, we don’t hang out much.

The Aviation is Wild!

The Aviation is wild: a purple hue, violet liquor, maraschino cherry liquor, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and of course some serious alcohol in the form of gin. It’ll knock you on your ass if you do not watch out.

Now none of this crap about “I don’t like gin!” I don’t like flour, but I’m fairly fond of bread! And Polysorbate 80 ain’t my bag, but I like the occasional Twinkie! Every few years at least.

Make it with vodka if you must, but that would be like making a Caesar Salad without anchovies – you NEVER taste the chopped anchovies in the dressing but if it’s not there it doesn’t taste quite right. You don’t need to like anchovies to totally dig a proper and awesome Caesar Salad!

The Aviation was invented in the early 1900s in New York City by Hugo Ensslin at the Hotel Wallick. It pretty much disappeared as Crème de Violette disappeared for perhaps decades – no one made it anymore although in the last few years several producers have appeared and it’s not too hard to find!

This drink rocks!

It’s a real crowd pleaser. Ask one of the 80 or so people I made it for last 4th of July.


First, ignore the International Bartenders Association (IBA) Recipe – they are usually spot on but blow this one big time.


2 shots Gin – Any decent gin will do. I like a fairly innocuous yet high quality gin for this like regular Bombay (not the Sapphire, although that works) or Beefeater. Tanqueray works extremely well too.
½ shot Maraschino Cherry Liquor (Luxardo is a good brand, although I haven’t encountered any bad producers)
¼ shot Crème de Violette Liquor (Rothman & Winter is good as are many others). Creme Yvette is sometimes used instead and is nice, but somewhat different from the original recipe and taste.
¾ shot fresh squeezed lemon juice

Add the ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake.

Strain into a cocktail glass and add a decent Maraschino Cherry (the following copied sort of verbatim from “The Manhattan”).

DO NOT buy those FLUORESCENT red cherries designed for kiddies ice cream sundaes and mediocre fruit cakes. You want a righteous cherry! It matters. I am currently using Sable & Rosenfield Whiskey tipsy Cherries and they are pretty good. You can often find decent maraschino cherries in your grocery story in the drink mix section or your liquor store.

This is a great (although dangerous) drink for anyone who doesn’t drink hard liquor or who hasn’t had any in decades. Approved by my Cousin A (if you’ve done any government work in forensics in DC you may have run across her), The Babysitter, and Surf Chick too! My old friend Chronicle however may avoid them for life . . .

It is a rather spectacular concoction in my opinion.

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    • John Brock
    • October 21, 2014

    You fed me one of these last winter and I believe it pushed me over the edge.

    • Ted Demopoulos
    • October 21, 2014

    I was making a few at that party! I’m out of Maraschino Liquor now, and need to locate some pronto! Not available in New Hampshire . . .

    • Dave M
    • October 25, 2014

    An amazing purple color – the Creme de Violette was easy to find too, the Maraschino Cherry Liquor took two liquor stores

    • Kate G from Wichita
    • December 16, 2014

    I had one of these recently at a craft cocktail bar – amazing!

    • Art
    • December 22, 2014

    So do you really make wild drinks like this all the time Ted, or just pop open a beer more often?

    I can understand if it’s a special event like a party, but tracking down ingredients and squeezing lemon juice sounds like a lot of work.

    I tracked one of these down at a bar recently (it was on the menu as a special) and it was very enjoyable, but the few times I have a drink at home it’s just so much easier to open beer.

    I was in your SEC501 class in Baltimore this year – awesome class, and YOU are a Rock Star!

      • Ted Demopoulos
      • December 22, 2014

      I don’t drink constantly, not even remotely nightly, but when I do I prefer to drink well.

      A well stocked bar is nice – if you love variety. Kind of like my friend Davie loves IPAs and usually has at least 5 varieties in his fridge. Some ingredients are sometimes tough to find, yes, but these are not too tough – now if you live in Eastern Montana an hours ride from the nearest liquor store or similar, you will have difficulty! Most ingredients I can find in New Hampshire liquor stores or in Boston, and I’m in Boston nearly weekly.

      Squeezing lemons and the like is no big deal – yes, I always have lemons on hand and usually my lemon juicer is out in the drainer and ready to go. Takes like maybe 45 seconds to juice a lemon. It’s worth it – fresh juices make a drink come alive!

      With any of these drinks, once you’ve made them a couple times they become very easy.

      So to answer your question, yes, when I make drinks I make drinks like these most of the time. Just like when I cook I don’t make Kraft Mac n Cheese, but make something a couple+ orders of magnitude better.

      I love to cook and love to make funky drinks, especially for friends! It’s not work but pure pleasure for me!

    • Yvonne
    • August 31, 2015

    I just recalled this thread as I recently saw a drink menu that had an Aviation on it for the first time ever, at Local 188 in Portland meeting an old high school friend. Looked this up, and was surprised you had your first one there too! Yummy, but too strong to have more than one and drive! A couple of seltzers next along with dinner. I’m only 110 pounds so must be careful!

    • Butch
    • September 10, 2015

    Wow, just had one – amazing! An infosecrockstar special

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