What Gin works best in an Aviation?
If you like the floral nature of the drink (and probably go a little heavy on the Violette as a result), try the likes of Cotswolds Gin with its huge lavender and grapefruit top notes, or Brooklyn Gin that combines similar floral tones with a medley of citrus. Alternatively, pick gins that use cubeb as a botanical. The spice has a perfumed violet note that adds a complimentary depth to the drink.
While many focus on the choice of gin, in our opinion it's the choice of Maraschino liqueur that will make the biggest difference to the cocktail. Compare the deeper earthier tones of Luxardo, vs more candied cherry tones or Maraska side by side and you'll see that pick one or the other makes for two radically different cocktails.
This is a cocktail that really suits being sipped as cold as it can be. Chilled glassware is essential. It's not one you can stir and get the same effect either. To get that instant lift off as soon as it comes to your lips, you need to have shaken it vigorously.
An abridged, inebriated history:
The original Aviation cocktail was first published in Hugo R. Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks and made great use of Alps produced liqueur Crème de Violette, the colour of which is alluded to in the drink’s very name.
Harry Craddock later printed the recipe in his 1930 publication, Savoy Cocktail Book. Harry’s recipe was a somewhat corrupt take on the drink, as he omitted the Crème de Violette – most likely due to its scarcity in Europe and America (the drink eventually disappeared from the American market altogether in the 1960s). The absence of the liqueur meant that for the next forty or so years the Aviation was served without one of its central (original) ingredients. In fact, it wasn’t until 2007 that it was brought back into the American market and even now cocktail connoisseurs debate over whether violet has any place in the drink.
We’ve included the original recipe below, but if you add another 10ml of Maraschino and remove the Crème de Violette you’ll have Craddock’s own, much sourer version.
The Savoy Cocktail Book recipe:
50ml Dry Gin
15ml lemon juice
Shake well and into strain into a cocktail glass.