Aviation has been on my mind. Both the kind that you sip and the kind that involves checking in and taking off your shoes. I guess that’s probably because I’m getting ready to travel to my hometown Chicago for Bubbly Bar book parties on October 1, 2 and 3.
But Chicago was also the first place I tasted the Aviation. It was on an election night — that momentous election night of 2008 — visit to The Drawing Room in the Gold Coast area. Scanning cleverly written menu, I spotted an Aviation, which included gin, maraschino and violet liqueur — I was in.
Since it was a quiet night, head mixologist Charles Joly brought the custom-made bar cart to the table and started making our drinks. As he worked, he told the story of the Aviation. I’d never understood why the clear combination of gin, maraschino and lemon labeled an Aviation on most menus warranted such a lofty name. But Joly explained that the original version of the drink — created just as commercial flight was becoming popular — included the liqueur Creme de Violette which stained it a pale blue. With the violet liqueur, an Aviation matches the color of the wild blue yonder.
I had another Aviation recently at a tasting by Preiss Imports, a rather low key San Diego spirit importer with a screaming good portfolio of 500 liqueurs and spirits. Two of their imports include the Italian cherry liqueur Luxardo Maraschino and Parfait Amour, a perfectly lovely French spirit created from violets.
No matter which violet liqueur you choose, a properly made Aviation has a fresh, bracing and fragrant flavor that takes you on a tasty journey.
2 ounces dry gin
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Luxardo Maraschino
1/4 ounce violet liqueur
lemon zest, for garnish
Add the gin, lemon juice, maraschino and violet liqueur to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 30 times. Strain into a cocktail glass like a vintage champagne coupe if you have one. Garnish with the lemon zest.