Crème de Violette defines the Aviation, but its perfumatory qualities can be a turnoff. When you look up photos of the cocktail, many pages greet you with an image of a drink with a beautiful violet color, something unachievable by the amount of violet liquor required to make a balanced drink. Instead, the Aviation acquires a faint cool gray color—still an attractive drink, nonetheless. Although you can use any violet liquor, the one in my cabinet is the Rothman & Winter’s brand, which uses Queen Charlotte and March violets with a brandy base.

I enjoy the Aviation, but the violet liquor can easily overpower the other ingredients, leading me to believe that we can vastly improve it if another ingredient subdues it. The Savoy Cocktail Book omits the violet liquor, instead calling for 2 oz of gin, 1 oz of lemon juice, and uses only a few dashes of maraschino, a combination too sour for my palette. The International Bartenders Association asks for 1.5 oz gin, 0.5 oz lemon juice and maraschino, and a bar spoon of Crème de Violette. That’s a balanced drink, but the violet surprisingly still takes center stage.

My favorite store-bought fix is a limited batch of gin, Hendricks’s 2019 Midsummer Solstice, a distinctly floral gin with citrus notes like orange and lemon, rose, lavender, pine, and a bit of spice. The obvious issue here is the availability of this gin. I recommend making your own with botanicals that match that flavor profile or adding lavender flowers, orange and lemon zest, and other floral ingredients to a traditional Hendricks batch. Experiment with what works for you! Below I will include my floral gin recipe if you want to work from scratch or have something to base your homebrew off of.

My modifications of the classic cocktail resulted in something complex with a long evolution of flavor. The floral attributes, guided along by the citrus, play nicely with each other, with the violet no longer taking all the attention. My variation of the classic cocktail, which my partner calls “Flight School,” is a pleasantly sweet, tart, and floral drink.

2 ozHendricks’ Midsummer Solstice
3/4 ozMaraschino Liquor
3/4 ozLemon Juice
1/4 ozSimple Syrup
1/3 ozCrème de Violette
1Luxardo Maraschino Cherry
Add all ingredients to a shaker with cracked ice and shake. Strain into a chilled glass, preferably a martini glass. Garnish with a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry

Gin Recipe

750 mlGrain Liquor or Vodka
2 tspLavender Flower
5Rose Hips
1Bay Leaf
1/2 tspOrange Zest
1/2 tspLemon Zest
1/2 tspRosemary Leaves
1/2 tspGround Coriander Seeds
0.5 ozJuniper
2Cardamom Pods (lightly rolled to expose the seeds)
1/4 tspGround Allspice

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