Learning to Fly


2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Maraschino liqueur <Luxardo>
1/4 oz lemon juice (up to 1/2 oz if you like your citrus)
(the classic recipe calls for 1/8-1/4 oz Creme de Violette. I don’t have it at home, so I omit it, at no detriment to the drink though).

Shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry*.

If the Manhattan was the drink that had me sticking my toe in the classic cocktail pool, the Aviation made me want to take a running start and do a cannonball in there.

Gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and creme de violette combine to make an elegantly refined cocktail that harkens back to a time when air travel required donning a suit. Fitting, since the name itself comes from the sky blue color of the classic cocktail (thanks creme de violette).

Even though it’s a classic from the pre-prohibition days, it doesn’t have the name recognition of the Manhattan or Martini.  That lends an air of intrigue when one is first introduced to it.  So whenever I have people over who aren’t well versed in cocktails, looking for an introduction to classic cocktails, or just don’t know exactly what they like, I’ll mix up one of these.   The gin and lemon juice are approachable and familiar flavors even if you’ve never heard of the drink. The maraschino liqueur brings a sweet funkiness on board, and is a good way to for people to experience a flavor found in many other cocktails, old and new. I don’t have creme de violette at home, so these flights are a bit more cloudy than usual.  Regardless, I haven’t come across anyone who hasn’t enjoyed the drink when they first have it.

The Aviation is also a great teaching tool if you’re trying to figure out what flavors you prefer in a drink. With only three ingredients, the components have no place to hide. Most recipes call for equal amounts of lemon juice and maraschino. The first time I made it, it felt like the citrus was overwhelming things. I dialed back the lemon a bit, and all the flavors really popped. Likewise, whenever I make the drink for others, I make a point to ask them about their feelings on citrus. Now it’s something I keep in mind when I make other drinks for myself as well.

Not a big gin fan? Don’t worry, you can easily swap it out for your favorite vodka, and you’ve got yourself a whole ‘nother drink.  The maraschino still keeps things interesting, and probably packs a little extra punch in this version.


2 oz Vodka <Tito’s>
1/2 oz Maraschino liqueur <Luxardo>
1/4 oz lemon juice

Shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a cherry.


Finally, if you’ve been drinking along with this blog, you might remember my post on Manhattans last week.  Well, guess what?  The Red Hook also employs Maraschino liqueur! You now have two delicious cocktails you can make from that bottle. This is a great way to start building your home bar.

* Two posts, two cherry asterisks! Luxardo cherries are probably the easiest way to step up up your cocktail game (and are my personal fave). Dense with real, deep cherry flavor; no bright red globes that taste like jolly ranchers here.  Just go pick some up for yourself, you won’t regret it. Most decent liquor stores carry them, as well as places like Willams-Sonoma.

10 thoughts on “Learning to Fly

  1. Arnie December 11, 2015 / 12:20 am

    You know it’s one of my favorites!
    Thanks for the introduction!


  2. Peggy December 11, 2015 / 1:16 am

    Love the pic…and the Aviation, too!! It has everything I love in a good cocktail! Am so Impressed that you take stock of what your “customers” like in a drink before you mix, shake and pour for them…an admirable quality!

    Sent from my iPad



  3. Peggy December 11, 2015 / 1:39 pm

    Love the pic…and the Aviation, too!! It has everything I love in a good cocktail!! Am so impressed that you take stock of what your “customers” like in their drinks before you mix, shake and pour. For them…an admirable quality!! Only wish it were actually fireplace weather now!!!


    • Arnie December 12, 2015 / 1:33 am

      Love this cocktail…thanks for introducing it to me!


  4. Arnie December 12, 2015 / 1:28 am

    You know Aviation is one of my favorites.
    Thanks for introducing me to this delicious cocktail!


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