How the Aviation Cocktail Got Its Name

Once known as the “forgotten classic”, Aviation became one of the most famous gin cocktails in bars across the United States for a period of time. A blue-hued lavender drink, Aviation is a renowned gin cocktail made by shaking well and serving straight away. It is a Gin Sour but has lemon liqueur acidity balanced by sweet maraschino liqueur and crème de violette liqueur instead of sugar syrup. Here is an exclusive look at the origin of the Cocktail Aviation name.

Aviation History Cocktail

The aviation cocktail was created by a German, Hugo Ensslin, then head bartender at the Wallick Hotel in New York at the start of the 20th century. He is widely credited with creating the cocktail. The first printed aviation cocktail recipe for the drink appeared in Enssllin’s 1916 Recipes for mixed drinks.

Aviation Cocktail (recipe by Hugo R. Ensslin)


  • 2/3 Gin El Bart
  • 2 dashes of violet cream
  • 1/3 fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dashes maraschino liqueur (not maraschino cherry juice)

Combine all ingredients with ice and shake well. Strain them into a cocktail glass and you have your sky blue aviation cocktail. Early in its revival, the cocktail was among many that circled the globe as cult drinks or bartender handshakes shared and favored among bar-goers.

Aviation cocktail version of Harry Craddock

Unfortunately, the crème de violette is mostly omitted from the recipe by many people, including Harry Craddock in his cocktail book. Book of Savoyard Cocktails by Harry Craddock, published in 1930, omitted the crème de violette ingredient. It is believed that the drink might have been forgotten in cocktail history had it not been included later in Harry Craddock’s bool. The recipe included mixing one-third lemon juice, two-thirds dry gin, and two dashes of maraschino. The creme de violette liqueur commitment meant that for the next four decades, the Aviation cocktail was served without any of its original ingredients. Bartenders have followed Craddock’s recipe for years, omitting the hard-to-find crème de violette liqueur. Crème Yvette, a violet liqueur made with additional spices, is sometimes used instead of crème de violette.

Aviation Cocktail (recipe by Harry Craddock)

  • 1/3 lemon juice
  • 2/3 dry gin
  • Two strokes of maraschino
  • Mix well and strain

Although it is no longer the original Aviation cocktail, the mixture of lemon juice, gin and maraschino produces an infusion that is reminiscent of the flavor of the original Ensslin, but without the floral notes of cream. of violet or the refined sky blue shade. The recipe makes for a particularly tangy drink, and without its signature creme-de-violet hue, the color reference of the sunset sky is lost.

How did the aviation cocktail get its name?

The Craddock version cocktail is what most bartenders today call aviation, but without knowing how it got its name. It is the crème de violette that gave the purplish blue color that gave its name to the “aviation” cocktail. When you add the Creme de Violette ingredient, the name of the drink becomes obvious as the drink takes on a sky blue color. The aviation cocktail originated in the early days of aeronautics, when air travel was an elegant luxury only the wealthy could afford. Its name is a sign of the emergence of aviation technology. In 1914, during the First World War, airplanes were sophisticated machines capable of fighting in the skies. When the Aviation cocktail was created in 1917, we didn’t just dream of soaring high in the sky with the light blue cocktail; we did.

Re-emergence of Ensslin’s original aviation cocktail

After entering the 21st century, aviation began to make a popular comeback as bartenders began reviving prohibition-era drinks. Franky Marshall is an influential bartender and says this sounded like one of the shaken gin cocktails bartenders and guests are familiar with. It’s always been a crowd pleaser, even for people who don’t know if they like gin. As the Air Force cocktail grew, so did the demand for the original Crème de Violette, prompting Haus Alpenz owner Eric Seed to begin importing Crème de Violette into the United States. United. Therefore, the cocktail version of blind aviation was launched in the market in 2007 when violet cream reappeared in the American market. Courtesy of seed import company, Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette, Crème de Violette Liqueur is once again available in the United States. Today producers such as Combier, Giffard, The Bitter Truth, Lee Spirits and other enterprising producers make their own crème de violette. Today, amateurs and professional bartenders alike can mix and match gin styles with crème de violette offerings to make their favorite version of this phenomenal cocktail. Some citrus gins make a fun twist on this cocktail, especially if you want to try the lemony nose and flavor without boosting the acidity. This renewed ability to make aviation according to Esslin’s original recipe has earned him enormous popularity, especially among the growing number of history-loving cocktail parties. In general, this elevated aviation to fashionable prominence. Mixologists often give the drink as compelling evidence for those who stubbornly resist the gin cocktail category.

The Simple Aviation Cocktail Recipe Leaves No Room For Error

As stated above, the ingredients you need to make Aviation Cream of Violet include gin, lemon juice, and maraschino liqueur. “It’s easy”, you might think? However, it is essential to maintain the balance between the herbaceous, tart and sweet elements. Therefore, you need to measure ingredients carefully to avoid an overdose of lemony acidity or potpourri flavors.


Hope you now know how the classic aviation cocktail gets its name. Generally, it is attributed to the unique ingredient of violet cream which gives it a sky-blue purplish color. Although the reintroduction of Crème de Violette has played a huge role in wooing people, especially in the current age of Instagram, it has ultimately endured over the years for its taste. Its exceptional balance between tangy, floral and sweet makes Aviation a cocktail that will remain a classic for many years.

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