The original recipe for the Aviation, first published in Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks, calls for 1 ½ ounces gin, ¾ ounce lemon juice, and two dashes each of maraschino liqueur and crème de violette. The last of the ingredients is arguably key to the Aviation since it imparts the sky blue color that inspired the cocktail’s name.
When Harry Craddock published his canonical bartending guide, The Savoy Cocktail Book, in 1930, crème de violette was inexplicably dropped from the Aviation recipe, resulting in a crisp (some might say, less balanced) cocktail akin to a gin sour. For decades thereafter, as Ensslin’s text lost favor and crème de violette became more difficult (and then impossible) to find in the United States, the original Aviation fell into obscurity.
Crème de violette’s reemergence in the early 2000s ushered in an opportunity to once again embrace Ensslin’s Aviation and its close iterations. To that end, we used the original Aviation as a jumping off point for The Kitty Hawk, a cocktail designed to complement a flower-themed brunch. Our goal? A drink more delicate, floral, and herbaceous than bracing, and closer in color to fuchsia than periwinkle. That meant adding considerably more violette liqueur–a change we felt warranted the name change. We also made a version with egg white to soften any lingering tartness and give the drink a velvety texture, which some tasters preferred. You could go either way.
For the Kitty Hawk, we recommend using Crème Yvette–which is made with four types of berries, orange peel, and dried violet petals–over Rothman & Winter violette liqueur. The latter is standard in Aviations, but it is likely too floral to be pleasant in this application.
The Kitty Hawk
Yield: 1 serving
2 ounces gin
¾ ounce lemon juice
¾ ounce Crème Yvette
¼ ounce Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 egg white (optional)
If using an egg white, add it and the other ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Without adding ice, shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds or until the mixture is well frothed and foamed. Then add ice and vigorously shake again to chill and dilute the drink.
If not using an egg white, add the other ingredients to a cocktail shaker along with ice. Shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds to properly chill and dilute the drink.
After shaking, place a single Luxardo Cherry with a bit of syrup into the bottom of a coupe glass. Strain the cocktail into the coupe over the cherry and top with an edible flower. Serve immediately.