The Aviation is one of my absolute favourite drinks. Strong, sharp with a hint of perfume that adds subtlety, it’s a drink I choose when I’m in need of some old school glamour. It’s also a fairly recent addition to my best drinks list. I first tried it two years ago at Saf (a raw food vegan restaurant that randomly has a top notch bar ) and happily they used a version based on the one in ‘Recipes for mixed drinks’ by Hugo Ensslin (1916). I think I’m right in saying this is the earliest version to be found:
1 lemon juice
2 dashes Maraschino
2 dashes Creme de Violette
Searching online and through my collection of books, it appears later recipes omitted the Violette until recently – possibly something to do with the republishing of Ensslin’s manual. But without the Violette you lose the faint blue shimmer that inspired the drink’s name and so lose half it’s charm.
After all the research, I had a strong craving to test Ensslin’s recipe myself but failed to get the Maraschino. Until I can pop into Gerry’s on Old Compton Street I’m making do with the version below, my own homage to perfection. The orange bitters were an afterthought, but I had just bought a new brand and was curious how they would taste – along with the sugar syrup, they help balance the slightly harsh cherry of the Kirsch.
1 lemon juice
1 creme de violette
1/2 simple syrup
2 dashes orange bitters
Shake with ice and strain into champagne saucer. Add blueberry garnish.
(NB I used a dash of egg white as I thought the white foam would complement the pale blue – but it’s entirely optional. Unless I’m mixing for a crowd, I don’t bother when a recipe calls for egg white as it’s mostly a cosmetic ingredient.)