Cocktails: The Aviation c/o Barcelona's Gretchen Thomas

Gretchen Thomas
Gretchen Thomas is the Wine & Spirits Director for the Barcelona Restaurant Group.

The classic cocktail revitalization is supercharged right now. San Francisco, New Orleans and Manhattan can take credit for getting that ball rolling, and the rest of the US...well we are a little behind as expected, but people are taking notice more and more. Why did the classics ever die out? In my opinion (strong emphasis on opinion), most of the classic drinks are whiskey or gin based, and Americans got sick of those flavors, turned to flavorless spirits, and they have been in fashion until recently. Now, vintage is back!

My new favorite vintage drink is the Aviation. I’ve seen this one pop up at mixology bars pretty often, but when I see the ingredients, my initial thought was, “bleh.” The Aviation is a martini made up of gin, violet liqueur, maraschino liqueur and lemon juice. I know, sounds strange, but delightfully, the flavors match up so well. The gin offers up the herbal touch, the violet liqueur gives color and a floral note, the marschino sweetens a bit to tone down the gin (sort of working like a clear red vermouth) and the lemon freshens the whole package. Its a refreshing martini that sits right on the edge of being sweet, but not nearly as sweet as many common fruit based “tinis.”

Did I mention, I have searched out the absolute best spirits for this drink? Luxardo maraschino liqueur is a classic and a must ingredient in the Aviation. The violet liqueur was the challenge, as many are made with artificial flavors and colorings. Anna Lisa (Opici Wines) introduced the Tempis Fugit liqueur to me and I was immediately sold; it is only made from violets, so the color is pale purple and the flavor is much cleaner and less viscous. As for the gin, I’ve chosen Ransom Old Tom, a very rare barrel aged gin from Oregon, that has a slightly pink color from ageing in old Pinot Noir barrels. Its incredibly unique and adds great complexity to this new favorite.

The Aviation Cocktail Recipe

1/2 ounce Tempus Fugit Liqueur de Violettes
1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 1/2 ounce Ransom Old Tom Gin
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
Measure all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake very well. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with lemon peel.


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