The Aviation (Luxardo Part 2)
This is a continuation from the post on Luxardo Maraschino, to see that post go here:
If Luxardo is Vivian Leigh, the Aviation is Gone with the Wind. It’s difficult to imagine the excitement young Mixologists had, researching this drink from the annals of the past. It must have been a revelation. We live, after all, in a world that is obsessed with technology, which moves upward and gets better with time. We often forget, that other fields of human thought and experience: Art, music, and yes…Cocktails, are not subject to the linearity of progress. Rather than go upward in a straight line, these go in cycles, and a good drink not only transcends time and space, it gives us hints as to what the world was like when it was consumed, and even if we know none of these things, it still tastes exceptional. One of the highlights of my best friends wedding, was seeing the look on the faces of the procession of Indian relatives on the brides side, as they first tasted the “strange bluish purple drink,” and discovered that they liked it! Yes my friend, even batched and thrown into punch bowls and given to an audience with no concept or familiarity with the cocktail, the aviation still managed to impress.
Above is the Aviation I ordered for my friend Avi, to get him into craft cocktails…
The first thing that strikes us about this cocktail is its wonderful…BLUENESS! This is not the artificial food colored mockery of blueness that often presents itself to us in a Blue Hawaiian or other such electric blue concoctions, redolent with blue curacao. No! This is a softer blue, a natural blue, a blue that wouldn’t look out of place in a painting, dare I say it, a blue that evokes the skies and soaring optimism and potential of the technological aeronautical progress along the early 20th century, culminating in Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight. Yes my friends, the very aesthetic of the drink, the color, and texture and name, transports us to another time and place, and although this drink was created a good decade before the historic flight of 1926, by Hugo Ensslin at New York’s Hotel Wallick, it evokes every ounce of wonder and magic from that bygone era.
The next element is the glass itself, in a sour glass or coupe, this is not a glass we are accustomed to having drinks in. The coupe fell out of style as a way to serve champagne decades ago, as the rapid decay of the carbonation and lack of aesthetic appeal compared to the flute proved its downfall on many a new years eve. Simply put, the coupe was made for such drinks. It evokes again, the spirit and optimism of the late 1910s and early to mid 1920s. Now, we may have never lived in the 20s, but we certainly know what it’s like to grow up in an era of a joyous financial bubble, and see the innovations. They had planes and industry my dear reader, as we had technology and the internet in the 90s, and while the 30s was a decade orders of magnitude more challenging to live through than the 2000s, all of us can understand the loss of innocence and financial and emotional turmoil that seized the world in the early 2000s. And the spirit of the 1920s, reflected in our own youth, splits the light into a bluish hue and gives even the least romantic of us pause.
Then we have the unorthodox ingredients! The purplish liqueur distilled from violet flowers, the Luxardo, gin, and fresh lemon juice. All ingredients that don’t seem like they would work together for most everyday drinkers, who like their vodka, and are wary of dark spirits (Scotch excepted of course), and simply don’t like the taste of gin.
And yet the balance and nuance of this drink has made believers out of tens of thousands. This is a drink that subverts expectations. This is a drink that turns Malibu bay breeze enthusiasts, into craft cocktail aficionados.
Mixing Method: Shake
Glass: Sour or Coupe
Garnish: Lemon Peel (Optional)
2 oz. Gin
0.5 oz. Maraschino Liqueur
0.25 oz. Crème de Violette
0.75 oz. Lemon Juice