Notes on the Aviation

I suppose no cocktail (for-better-or-for-worse) has come to represent the late 2000’s cocktail renaissance like the Aviation.

A pre-prohibition era cocktail, the Aviation underwent a series of changes based on product availability. For example, Creme de Violette was scarce— if even available stateside by the 1950’s. The Aviation lost its violette and was simply a combination of lemon juice, Maraschino liqueur and gin.

As the cocktail began appearing in early 00’s cocktail books, the Aviation probably directly inspired the importation and launch of every creme de violette that came on into the market in the 00’s and 10’s— and there were lots of them.

Many (including myself) have found the delicate, gently floral cocktail a perfect introduction for people not accustomed to drinking gin. Others like Jeffrey Morgenthaler— veteran of the cocktail renaissance— dismiss the cocktail outright. “And I guess there are still a few people who actually like it,” he told Punch in 2017. There it is, dismissed like bell bottoms in the 80’s, shoulder pads in the 90’s and JNCO jeans in the 00’s.

But the Aviation’s historical impact throughout the 00’s should not be understated. It was among the first ubiquitous pre-prohibition gin cocktails to appear on menus of budding cocktail programs in American urban centers. If I were to choose one cocktail to symbolize the gin renaissance, it well would be the Aviation.

I still think it’s a good drink. But as with any drink with bold ingredients, balance is the key. Don’t overdo the Creme de Vilette.

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