Aviation Cocktail: Learn The History Behind This Gin Drink
Image Credit: Preppy Kitchen

The Aviation – a cocktail that rose to fame then faded into the background, and has recently made a comeback, thanks to the new wave of gin-lovers. The purple-hued cocktail first found mention in a book called Recipes for Mixed Drinks by the German-born bartender, Hugo Ensslin. The original recipe, which calls for ⅔ parts of gin, two dashes Crème de Violette, ⅓ parts of fresh lemon juice and two dashes of Maraschino Liqueur is believed to be the unique creation of Ensslin himself. While working at the Hotel Wallick in New York, it is said that he came up with the recipe around the time of the prohibition era in the US.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

During this time, the charm of many classic cocktails faded to make way for simpler, easily-accessible drinks that were made in secret, at speakeasies around the country. Once the period of abstinence ended, bartenders were on a mission to bring back some of the very best mixology could offer, and the Aviation found itself to be in vogue again. However, this time, it disguised itself as The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock. This new and improved recipe had one glaring difference due to the omission of Creme de Violette. While some say that procuring the ingredient was difficult, some also believe that since it wasn’t a bar staple, the ingredient had to be stocked simply for this drink, proving to be a bit too extravagant.

One unfortunate side-effect of the upgraded recipe was that the name of the cocktail became irrelevant, since it came about in the early days of air travel, when flying was a privilege reserved for the wealthy – a statement. When the Aviation was crafted in 1917, it symbolised the age of airplane hopping – the purple-blue hues reminiscent of cloudless skies. Without the key ingredient of Crème de Violette, the lilac hues were missing and the name was rendered obsolete.

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The unusual flavour profile is what makes this drink stand out from other timeless classics – with the presence of herbal notes from the gin, the tangy citrus from the lemon and the sweetness of maraschino cherry liqueur and floral notes of the violette crème. The revival of this beautiful blue drink has slowly been drawing attention in the Instagram age and the delicate balance for floral flavours and gin is one that appeals heavily to the era of our modern Gin-naissance.


  • 60 ml gin
  • 15 ml Maraschino liqueur
  • 7.5 ml Crème de Violette
  • 22.5 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Ice
  • Maraschino cherry, for garnish
  • Lemon twist, for garnish


  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice while you add the gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and freshly squeezed lemon juice in a separate mixing glass or shaker.
  • Retrieve the chilled cocktail shaker and empty it before straining the mixture from the mixing glass into the chilled shaker.
  • Shake vigorously for about 15-20 seconds until cold and pour into a chilled coupe glass.
  • Garnish your cocktail with a maraschino cherry or lemon twist and serve.