National Aviation Day, celebrated on August 19th, is a day to honor the history and advancements in aviation. This year, let's toast to the skies with the Aviation Cocktail, a classic drink that shares a rich history with the world of flight.
A Chronological Timeline of Aviation History
1783: The Montgolfier brothers launch the first hot air balloon.
1903: The Wright brothers make the first powered flight.
1914: Commercial aviation begins with the first scheduled airline.
1917: The Aviation cocktail is created by Hugo Ensslin
1939: The jet engine is invented.
1969: The Boeing 747, the first "Jumbo Jet," takes flight.
2003: The Concorde makes its final flight.
The History of the Aviation Cocktail
The Aviation cocktail is a rare and unique drink that is often compared to a mythical unicorn due to its colorful appearance and elusive nature. This gin-based cocktail is made with lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette, a violet flower liqueur. Combining these ingredients creates a complex mix of flavors that can be polarizing - some love it, while others hate it.
The Aviation is essentially a Gin Sour with a twist. The maraschino liqueur is the dominant flavor, while the crème de violette adds depth and a distinctive blue color to the drink. While it may seem like a chaotic blend of flavors, when made correctly, it is a refreshing and interesting cocktail.
The recipe for the Aviation was first published in 1917 in a cocktail recipe book by Hugo Ensslin, a German-born bartender who created the drink while working at the Hotel Wallick in New York City. The recipe was later featured in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, but without the crème de violette. It is unclear if this was a mistake or a deliberate choice, but most bartenders today follow Craddock’s version of the recipe.
For many years, the Aviation was off the menu because crème de violette was not available in the United States. However, in 2009, an Austrian violet liqueur was imported by Haus Alpenz, and since then, American distillers have started making their own versions of the liqueur. Today, the Aviation cocktail is once again taking flight and gaining popularity among cocktail enthusiasts.
Here is the recipe:
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Maraschino liqueur
1/4 oz Crème de violette
3/4 oz Lemon juice
Chill the Glass: Place your cocktail glass in the freezer to chill.
Mix Ingredients: In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice.
Shake Well: Shake the ingredients with ice until well chilled.
Strain and Serve: Strain the cocktail into the chilled glass and garnish with a cherry.
In brief, the Aviation cocktail's floral flavor has left some modern Americans uncertain. While it may have wings, it needs more practice before taking off in the United States. The drink represents not only a delicious cocktail but also the boldness of flight and human ingenuity. On National Aviation Day, let's toast to aviation pioneers and savor the taste of history.
"Recipes for Mixed Drinks" by Hugo Ensslin, 1916.
"The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough, 2015.
"The History of Aviation" by Anne Millbrooke, 2008.