Serious Eats: Recipes

Time for a Drink: The Aviation

[Photo: Jessica Leibowitz]

Record delays. Overbooked flights. Security lines.

Does anyone remember when flying was fun?

In its early days, aviation was just about the most dashing thing around, and the whole idea of taking to the sky was as fantastic a dream as any. Back then, it was all leather flight jackets and pilot's goggles, the roar of the propeller and the wind in your hair; now, we're stuck with cramped seats, missed connections, and walking around in public in our socks.

Aviation's glory days even inspired the creation of a cocktail. Once the secret-handshake drink of the cocktail cognoscenti, today this drink is as common as an extended layover. A mixture of gin, lemon juice and maraschino liqueur, the Aviation is a very friendly introduction to classic cocktails--and let's face it, if you're flying this summer, you're going to need a drink.

Why is it called the aviation? Because the drink's earliest printed recipe (in 1917) called for the inclusion of creme de violette (creme Yvette was a notable proprietary brand), a violet-flavored and colored liqueur that gave the drink a cerulean hue that brought to mind the wild, blue yonder. Production of creme Yvette was discontinued decades ago, but fortunately, a new violet liqueur from Rothman & Winter appeared in New York last month; starting this month, it should start trickling into California. Keep an eye out for a bottle, so you can mix up an authentic aviation.

Note: There are as many different versions of the Aviation as there are rules about objects you can bring onboard an aircraft. Most concern the proportion of lemon juice to maraschino. You may wish to adjust the measurements to your personal taste.

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