I’ve been in a sour mood as of late. Maybe because of the dismal weather we’ve been having. Or perhaps the lack of sleep.
I’m talking about the family of refreshing cocktails, of course – the Whiskey Sour being the archetype of the clan. Although the most ubiquitous, there are other sours that are a little more interesting to my palate than the standard. Don’t get me wrong; a Whiskey Sour can be a delicious beverage when made with some care, but for today’s cocktail I chose to feature something with a little more flair: the Aviation.
The invention of the Aviation just squeaked in before the Volstead Act was ratified, i.e. when Prohibition swept across the US. The recipe first appeared in 1917 in Hugo Ensslin’s “Recipes for Mixed Drinks”, which also happened to be the last cocktail book published before the dreaded Eighteenth Amendment came into effect.
The name of the cocktail pays homage to the miracle of human flight. Keep in mind that the Wright Brother’s first successful flight was a mere 14 years previous. You also have to remember that most of the world was at war, and that the ace fighter pilots that were duking it out in the skies above Europe were portrayed as modern knights – many becoming popular heroes. It’s not certain if he intended to celebrate a specific ace or not, but it is evident that Mr. Ensslin wished for his cocktail to evoke notions of blue skies. Hence the addition of the purple-hued crème de violette, which when mixed with lemon juice, yields a pleasant blue colour.
- 2 oz. Bruichladdich The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
- ¾ oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
- 1 tsp Crème Yvette
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake it like you’d want to shake a toddler that refused to eat their dinner for 45 minutes and then finally just threw the entire contents of their bowl onto the adjacent wall and laughed at you. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO GET SPAGHETTI SAUCE OFF A WALL? DO YOU? Once cold, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. You could leave out the garnish, but I find a lemon twist is nice.
Don’t try to adjust your screen. No, the above pictured cocktail is not, in fact, blue, but rather pink. Why must I turn this blog into a house of lies? Let me explain. You can’t get crème de violette in my neck of the woods. As far as I know, the only quality crème de violette that is currently being made is by Rothman & Winter out of Austria, which doesn’t seem to be imported into the wilds of Canada (yet). This being said, Crème Yvette – made from blackberry, raspberry, blackcurrant and wild strawberry, and blended with dried violet petals from Provence, as well as honey and orange peel – is available. It’s my understanding that Crème Yvette is a much more complex animal when compared to Rothman & Winter’s offering. While the R&W crème de violette is a straightforward violet bomb, Crème Yvette is more sweet, offering flavours of berries, violets, honey, licorice and vanilla. Given its additional sweetness, it’s best to dial back the amount you put into the Aviation ever so slightly (I used a teaspoon rather than a full ¼ oz).
This cocktail is both refreshingly tart and drier than you might think, despite the sweet Crème Yvette. You can pick up the floral notes on the nose, as well as on the finish. Overall, great complexity and depth, especially for a sour.
So it’s pink instead of blue… Pink sky at night, aviator’s delight?