Floral violet liqueur is balanced by acidic lemon juice in this vibrantly hued classic cocktail.

Aviation Cocktail

Matt Taylor-Gross

Total Time:
5 mins

This gorgeous, light-purple-hued gin cocktail actually tastes as good as it looks. Served in an elegant coupe glass, this cocktail dates all the way back to the early 20th century, where it was first mentioned in Recipes for Mixed Drinks, a book written by Hugo Ensslin, the head bartender of the Hotel Wallick in New York City. The Aviation cocktail features gin, lemon, and maraschino liqueur, three ingredients that are found in many classic cocktails, but the stunning color and flavor comes from crème de violette, or violet liqueur. 

Brilliantly purple in the bottle, violet liqueur is indeed made from violets, the delicate late-winter, early-spring flowers. To make this liqueur, the petals of the flower are picked, submerged in brandy or a neutral spirit, and left to infuse in an airtight container for multiple days. This technique of steeping herbs, flowers, or even spices in alcohol is how many liqueurs (and ingredients, like vanilla extract) are made. Once the infusion is strained and sweetened, you are left with a gently floral, aromatic liqueur with a gorgeous violet color. While the Aviation cocktail is perhaps the most well-known way to use violet liqueur, there are plenty of other delightful uses. Add a splash to a glass of Champagne for a Violete Royal, or combine it with whiskey or Scotch, lemon juice, and honey syrup for a Scotch Violet. This liqueur brings unique floral aromas and gorgeous color to any cocktail. 

As for the Aviation cocktail, the floral violet liqueur is enhanced by the combination of acidic lemon juice and sweet, aromatic maraschino liqueur, whose richness gets cut by the botanical-forward gin. We love the Creme de Violette from Rothman & Winter which has a rich, deep purple color. While violet liqueur is a delicious and beautiful ingredient, it can sometimes be hard to find. If you can’t get your hands on violet liqueur, Creme de Yvette is a liqueur made from a blend of dried violet petals, and berries like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cassis—which all combine for a fragrant aperitif. Another alternative is Parfait Amour, which is made by a few brands and shares the classic purple hue and floral fragrance. Whichever liqueur you choose, the Aviation cocktail is a unique, balanced, and delicious cocktail that is sure to impress for any occasion. 


  • 2 ounces gin (such as Tanqueray)

  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur

  • 1/2 ounce crème de violette (violet liqueur)

  • Ice

  • 1 sour cherry, for garnish (optional)


  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur and violet liqueur. Fill the shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with the cherry.

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