The Aviation: A Flight Through Cocktail History

Whether you’re a seasoned cocktail connoisseur or a curious enthusiast, chances are you’ve heard of the Aviation – a classic pre-Prohibition era cocktail. This enchanting libation is renowned for its striking hue and balanced flavors, providing a delightful glimpse into the past while dazzling modern palates.

white airplane under black clouds

Originating from the early 20th century, the Aviation first appeared in print in Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 “Recipes for Mixed Drinks”. An esteemed bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York City, Ensslin included the Aviation in his collection of cocktail recipes, and it quickly gained popularity.

The Aviation is a gin-based cocktail characterized by its use of maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and fresh lemon juice. The combination of these ingredients results in a cocktail with a distinctive blueish-purple color that arguably inspired its name, reminiscent of the sky at twilight.

Interestingly, the recipe for the Aviation went through a bit of a transformation in the mid-20th century. Harry Craddock’s “The Savoy Cocktail Book”, published in 1930, omitted the crème de violette. Some speculate this change was due to the scarcity of the ingredient during that time. As a result, many bartenders made the Aviation without crème de violette for years, resulting in a different flavor and appearance.

However, with the resurgence of classic cocktails and the availability of crème de violette in recent years, the original Aviation recipe has made a comeback. The reintroduction of crème de violette gives the drink a delightful floral note and a delicate purple hue that lends it a sense of sophistication and allure.

One sip of the Aviation, and you’re transported back to a time when air travel was a novelty and the cocktail reigned supreme. This historic cocktail is a testament to the timeless appeal of well-balanced flavors and the enduring charm of classic mixology.

Have you tried the Aviation? Do you prefer it with or without crème de violette? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.


Explore the history and flavors of the Aviation, a classic gin-based cocktail. Learn how to make it and engage in the crème de violette debate
5 from 2 votes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 Drink
Calories 323 kcal


  • 2 oz Gin Why not use Aviation
  • 1/2 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz Maraschino liqueur Luxardo
  • 1/4 oz Crème de violette
  • Brandied Cherry to garnish


  • Combine the gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette in a cocktail shaker.
  • Fill the shaker with ice and shake until well chilled.
  • Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a cherry or a lemon twist, and enjoy!
Keyword gin drinks, prohibition era drinks, shaken drinks, straight up

3 thoughts on “The Aviation: A Flight Through Cocktail History”

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