There was a time when pilots were heroes and the nation was fascinated by their exploits in the sky.
Captain Sully Sullenberger aside (you are a prince among men, sir), we’ve moved into a new realm of hero. Like Justin Bieber, for instance–I mean, like, wow, how does he get those bangs so perfect? But in the 1930’s, men like Charles Lindbergh fascinated the country when he flew the Spirit of St. Louis (a single-engine, single-seat craft) from New York to Paris in a 3,600 mile voyage of bravery.
This week’s classic cocktail is in honor of these bold heroes (real heroes) like Lindbergh, who, if my guess is correct, tipped back a cold Aviation the moment his feet hit the ground.
Using the once near-impossible-to-find liqueur, Crème de Violette, the Aviation was first mentioned in print in 1916 in “Recipes for Mixed Drinks” by Hugo Ensslin, who was a New York bartender at the Hotel Wallick in Times Square. Additionally, the use of Maraschino liqueur (itself a once-rare ingredient), makes this cocktail one that had nearly slipped into oblivion but has flown back on the scene and can be found at any serious cocktail bar.
As mentioned, Crème de Violette was once as hard to find as a wee leprechaun’s elusive pot of gold. But a great version from Rothman & Winter has become readily available. Produced in Austria, it is made by macerating Queen Charlotte and March Violets (which grow high in the Alps) in a brandy distillate with a touch of cane sugar for sweetness.
Maraschino is a bittersweet liqueur made from Marasca cherries grown in Croatia which, along with the crushed pits, are made into a distillate and allowed to mature for two years in Finnish ashwood vats giving a slight almond flavor.
Perhaps Lindbergh flew over these same slopes in the Alps and gave a nod to the violets below while munching on a mid-air snack of Croatian cherries…
Part and Parcel
- 2 ounces Gin
- 1/2 ounce fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/3 ounce Maraschino Liqueur
- 1/6 ounce Crème de Violette
- Maraschino cherry for garnish
Filling the Bill
Pour ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake till cold to the touch. Strain into a chilled martini glass and drop in a cherry.
Sit back, look up to the sky and give a nod to the spirit of Charles Lindbergh. You’re a true hero, sir. (But we may need to work on your bangs; I’ll contact Justin Bieber for some notes).