Frontier Psychiatrist

Frontier Mixology, vol. 26: Take to the Skies

Posted on: October 22, 2010

There are two iconic drinks that best symbolize the resurgence of interest in classic cocktails.  The first is the Corpse Reviver No. 2, which we’ve previously covered.  The second is the Frontier Mixologist’s wife’s favorite: the Aviation.  These two drinks were rediscovered by both bartenders and domestic tipplers, and have helped spur the movement away from mixed drinks, e.g. “Two Stoli Blueberi and Sodas.”  Indeed, the Aviation has been oft-referred to as a sort of secret handshake amongst cocktail bloggers and in-the-know bartenders.  Both the Corpse Duce and the Aviation use gin, involve somewhat obscure ingredients, and are served straight up, i.e. without ice.  Most critically for the development of craft cocktail bars, which require patrons to be patient and wait for drinks that are made with care, these drinks require a deft hand and precise proportions.  When made properly, these drinks have a carefully orchestrated balance between sour, sweet, and aromatic flavors.  When made poorly, however, they are way out of tune.

Aviation Cocktail

2 oz. dry gin

¾ oz. lemon juice

2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur

1 teaspoon crème de violette

Shake vigorously in an iced cocktail shaker for longer than you think you should; strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with lemon twist.

Up until relatively recently, recreations of the Aviation necessarily omitted the crème de violette.  This lacunae was understandable, as the liqueur was simply not available in the US and was only located in Europe with great difficulty.  The drink still tasted great, but its name didn’t make any sense.  A generalized, early-Twentieth century obsession with new-fangled flying contraptions, perhaps?

I can't understand why this didn't work

But, with the state-side introduction of Rothman & Winter’s Crème de Violette in 2007, one could finally make the drink with its full litany of components.   Incidentally, the Rothman & Winter liqueurs are distributed by Eric Sneed’s Haus Alpenz, whose whole line is full of amazing bottles.  Mr. Sneed earned our unending respect when he was described by Atlantic correspondent Wayne Curtis as “the only person I’ve heard use the phrase ‘Hanseatic League’ since I was in high school.”  As for the Aviation, the inclusion of the violette renders the cocktail a pale sky blue, and you don’t have to be early aviation pioneer Roland Garros to see that the name makes perfect sense after all.  Go easy with the violette, though, otherwise the drink will taste like those weird violet candies.

Drink up,


1 Response to "Frontier Mixology, vol. 26: Take to the Skies"

[…] relatively obscure ingredients that are typically used in small quantities, e.g. allspice dram or crème de violette.  If you have a friend or two who are also into trying to make cocktails at home, consider […]

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