Aviation cocktail
Cocktails,  Gin,  Recipes


The Aviation cocktail is a pre-prohibition variation on a gin sour. Typically floral and somewhat lilac in colour the Aviation is not to everyone’s taste. In fact, it seems to have quite a polarising effect on the cocktail community with the Likers and the Haters quite vocal on social media.

First mentioned in Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks it includes the French liqueur crème de violette which strongly tastes, you guessed it, of violets. But by 1930 when The Savoy Cocktail Book, by Harry Craddock was published the violet liqueur had mysteriously disappeared from the recipe.

Since then the Aviation’s fortunes have had a turbulent time, rising and falling with the fluctuations of fashion. One minute it is in and ok to order at a bar without the bartender rolling their eyes. The next minute it becomes a secret indulgence that you tell no-one about.

The sticking point seems to be the crème de violette. It can’t be the colour, which is only a pale lilac and quite inoffensive. There are far more lurid cocktails out there.

So it must be the taste. On its own, the crème de violette is quite violently violet, like floral perfume or soap. Once tried on its own you become very hesitant about putting it your cocktail. One slip of the jigger and you are drinking floral shower gel not an Aviation cocktail.

So whether you are a With or Withouter, a For or Againster, an Ensslin supporter or a Craddock fan here are the 2 recipes: Ensslin’s and Craddock’s.


Ensslin’s With (see main pic)


Cocktail or coupe


45 ml / 1.5 oz violet gin

15 ml / 0.5 oz maraschino liqueur

15ml / 0.5oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

7.5 ml / 0.25 oz crème de violette (dial it down if you find it too strong)


Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice.

Fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Maraschino cherry



Craddock’s Without

Omit the Crème de Violette but not the maraschino cherry– simple.


Aviation cocktail



Aviation cocktail




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