Improved Aviation Cocktail

improved aviation cocktailAmazon is both a pleasure and a curse. When a box arrives on our doorstep, the first thing I think is “Oh crap. How much did we spend this time?”. And then I open up the box and all questions of financial insanity are wiped clean away. Because I got a new cocktail book! My husband was browsing this time around and picked it out due to the crazy techniques in the description he found online. A Japanese take on cocktails, Cocktail Techniques by Kazuo Uyeda instructs the reader on making an ice sphere by hand, and the author’s well-known technique of “hard shaking” to mix cocktails. He thought it would make for an interesting break from the cocktail books I have been reading.

Not very far into this book and I’m already feeling schooled. There is a discipline that Uyeda not so subtly is trying to get across to the reader. Mainly, I should know how to make all great cocktails well first before I try and make my own. Well, hrm. This blog would start to get very boring if I just ran through the roster of drinks you’ve already heard of. One point he makes that stuck with me is that once you can make a cocktail, make it better. That doesn’t mean that you have to go out and re-make the martini, but what I got from this was go out and make it great and to your liking.

Which brings us to the Aviation cocktail.

Personally, I find it boring. With it’s unique blend of ingredients (VIOLET!) there should be more… flavor? Balance? Anything. Taking the cue from Uyeda I decided that I’ve had this enough out and at home that I think I could find a way to improve upon it. In the end I believe, for my preferred tastes, that I have.improved-aviation-3

2 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz Maraska Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 oz The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur
1/4 oz Bénédictine
3 drops Miracle Mile Sour Cherry Bitters
2 drops Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients and shake. Strain into a chilled coupe.improved-aviation-2

The resulting cocktail has more layers of flavor. In short, less boring. They are not loud, in your face flavors, but they balance the drink out considerably. Lime works as a better acid with the floral violet than the  lemon did. Adding the Bénédictine and both bitters creates those more complex layers this drink needed, as well as a more pleasant citrus and cherry nose instead of the heavily perfume-y nose it originally had.

So is there a well known drink you’ve had but are not wowed by it? Go ahead and let yourself make it better. You’re the one who has to drink it.

11 Responses to “Improved Aviation Cocktail”

  1. You summed up my thoughts on classic cocktails in this post. I’ve never been a fan of following classics exactly, and 99% of the time, I find myself either adding something or changing ratios to stuff. I dont care much for the aviation but this version sounds really tasty, so I’ll have to give it a go.

  2. I’m intrigued by the addition of Benedictine. Whenever I make an Aviation, I usally add a 1/4 oz or so of simple syrup as I find a little sugar helps bring the cocktail together better. I really love the color on this one from the Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur. I’ll definitely have to try this version. Cheers.

    • Thanks! For me it was sweet enough. It just needed some oomph. I find that some layers of spice really opened it up.

  3. scot davis

    I was all set to dislike this, as aviations are my favorite drink but WOW.
    It is the perfect aviation. The bite that is sometimes there is gone. Who knew? Thanks for sharing. You have changed the way I make my all-time favorite cocktail.

      • scot davis

        though mine have NEVER turned out blue like your picture. always light purplish gray. any suggestions? is it the bitter truth violet vs the R&W violette?

        • It’s got to be the Bitter Truth here. There is a smidge of color correction but nothing that would change the color so dramatically.


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