Gin • Sour

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If the Aviation looks like a delicate flower of a cocktail, that’s because it’s actually made of one. Invented around 1911 by bartender Hugo R. Ensslin at the Hotel Wallick in New York as a variation on the Gin Sour, the Aviation relies on maraschino and crème de violette. That latter ingredient, or rather, the lack of it, nearly killed the drink outright. Made by steeping violets in wine or raw spirits, crème de violette was omitted from the The Savoy Cocktail Book version of the recipe in 1930, leaving the resulting concoction a dismal shell of its former self. As the bleeding edge of American cocktail culture shifted towards tiki in the ‘40s and ‘50s, the Aviation all but disappeared. Its shove off the bar was aided by the fact that, by 1960, you couldn’t even buy crème de violette in the United States. Indeed, the Aviation was long buried when, in 2007, as a response to the burgeoning craft cocktail movement, Rothman & Winter released a classic crème de violette in the U.S. for the first time in more than 40 years. David Wondrich’s inclusion of the cocktail in his 2007 book Imbibe! officially brought the Aviation Cocktail back from cocktail purgatory to a modern audience. And while the rebirth may have started with a single brand of crème de violette, there are now a number of brands to choose from, including one from the well-respected bitters producer Bitter Truth and French liqueur maker Drillaud.

The Essentials

Crème de Violette
The Details


2 oz Gin
.5 oz Crème de Violette
.25 oz Maraschino
.25 oz Lemon Juice
Brandied Cherry


  • Place gin, juice, maraschino and crème de violette in a tin with ice.
  • Shake well and strain into a chilled coupe.
  • Garnish with a brandied cherry.

Mix it Up

Depending on your taste for sweet or sour, feel free to tweak the ratios of crème de violette to lemon juice.

Recommended Gins: Beefeater, Tanqueray, Plymouth, Bombay London Dry

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