Classic Aviation Cocktail Recipe

The aviation cocktail is, in fact, not a drink named after the celebrity gin brandas it dates back to the pre-Prohibition era. This classic gin drink has experienced various stages of popularity, thanks in part to its unique ingredients and gorgeous complexion. While the aviation cocktail is not quite as trendy as it was during its millennial heyday, it's still a refreshing drink for gin fans not afraid to dabble in less-familiar liqueurs.

"This cocktail," says recipe developer Michelle McGlinn, "is perfect for both gin lovers, and those who are okay with gin, but don't love a straight gin martini." She describes the aviation's flavor as "gin-forward, but sweetened by the crème de violette and lemon," balancing both the "bitter, sharp gin taste ... [and] floral, sweet taste of the violette." She likes it as a spring cocktail, due to the floral notes, and says that the pretty purple color is perfect for Easter, but adds that it is also quite enjoyable during winter, as well.

Gather the ingredients for the aviation cocktail

To make this drink, you'll be using gin, which McGlinn recommends using a neutral, citrus, or floral gin, as opposed to one that has heavy juniper notes. You'll also be using freshly squeezed lemon juice, as well as crème de violette and maraschino liqueur.

If you're hesitant to plunk down the money for either of these liqueurs, McGlinn says that they can both be used in other cocktails. She recommends using maraschino liqueur in another gin drink called the Last Word, and says that crème de violette pairs well with gin, vodka, and even sparkling wine.

To garnish your drink, you'll need a bourbon cocktail cherry, and a lemon twist.

Combine the drink ingredients

If you have a cocktail shaker on hand, fill it with ice. No shaker? There's no need to go out and buy one. Instead, you can simply use a lidded jar, or two plastic drink cups that can fit together, one atop the other, to form a tight seal. Add the gin to the shaker or shaker substitute, along with the crème de violette, maraschino liqueur, and the lemon juice, then cover the shaker with a lid.

Shake the cocktail

McGlinn says that most gin drinks are stirred, explaining "It's not common to shake gin because it hurts the flavor of the spirit." The aviation, however, is a shaken drink, since it contains fresh citrus juice. Also, "In this cocktail, the gin comes through so strongly, that shaking it helps tone that down a bit to let the other spirits shine," McGlinn says. Shake the drink for about 15 seconds to ensure that it is properly chilled.

Pour and garnish the aviation cocktail

For the optimal aviation experience, McGlinn suggests straining the drink into a chilled, stemmed glass, like a martini, coupe, or Nick and Norah glass.

McGlinn also advises using a dark, syrupy type of cocktail cherry as a garnish. She does say "In a pinch, you could use those bright red cherries from the baking section," but adds "honestly, those are so sweet, you're probably better off just leaving the cherry out." You could, of course, also use a fresh cherry when they are in season. In addition to the cherry, dress up your drink with a twist of lemon rind.

Classic Aviation Cocktail Recipe
5 from 30 ratings
Gin can be the perfect base in cocktails, and this aviation cocktail is the ideal mixture of floral and herbaceous.
Prep Time
Cook Time
purple cocktail in stemmed glass
Total time: 2 minutes
  • 2 ounces gin
  • ½ ounce crème de violette liqueur
  • ½ ounce maraschino liqueur
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • 1 dark maraschino or bourbon cherry
  • 1 lemon twist
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Pour in the gin, crème de violette, maraschino liqueur, and lemon juice, and cover the shaker. Shake the drink for 15 seconds, until it is well chilled.
  3. Strain the drink into a chilled stemmed glass, and garnish with a cherry, and a lemon twist.
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