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Fly in style with the Aviation cocktail

  • Most luxurious and successful variation of the Gin Sour

  • Replacing Crème de Violette by Bols Parfait Amour

  • Perfect for a fancy night out

The Aviation cocktail is a classic gin cocktail and is quite possibly the most successful variation on the Gin Sour. The Aviation gets its name from the light blue colour of the cocktail that is created by adding a bar spoon of Crème de Violette. It's supposed to remind you of the blue sky you see from the window of an airplane. Flying in the early 20th century was only affordable for the very wealthy and this cocktail has long lived up to its luxurious name. The Aviation is a genius cocktail invention, which continues to intrigue.

How to make an Aviation?

Originally, the Aviation contains Crème de Violette. In the Bols Aviation recipe we replace the Crème de Violette with Bols Parfait Amour. It's a violet-coloured liqueur containing violet petals, in addition to subtle hints of rose petals, vanilla, and orange peel.

Aviation ingredients

50 ml Damrak Gin
15 ml Bols Maraschino
5 ml Bols Parfait Amour
20 ml lemon juice

Aviation glassware and tools

Martini glass
Cocktail shaker
Jigger
Strainer

  1. Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker. 

  2. Fill the cocktail two-thirds of the way with ice. 

  3. Shake the cocktail for around 10 seconds and fine strain it into a chilled martini glass.

  4. Garnish with a lemon zest

The taste of luxury

As previously mentioned, the Aviation cocktail is a variation on the classic Gin Sour – a cocktail with gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup. However, by replacing the sugar syrup with the sweet and fruity Bols Maraschino liqueur and the floral and sweet Bols Parfait Amour and by reducing the lemon juice to 20 ml instead of 30 ml, you achieve an even better sweet/sour balance with much more depth. The Aviation cocktail still has Damrak Gin in the starring role, which elevates the cocktail with its herbs, citrus and a strong kick of alcohol.

The history of the Aviation

The recipe of the Aviation cocktail first appeared in the book 'Recipes for Mixed Drinks' (1917) by Hugo R. Esslin, head bartender at the Wallick Hotel in New York. The name perfectly reflects the lavish drinking experience one has when consuming an Aviation cocktail. Think roaring twenties and fancy dressed men and women, mesmerizing about their destinations ahead while flying in style. Many bartenders try removing either the Crème de Violette or the Maraschino liqueur from the Aviation recipe, but the traditional recipe always includes both. 

The 3 best Aviation recipe variations

Recipe variation 1 – Replace the base

Replacing the Damrak Gin with Bols Genever results in an interesting cocktail. The honey notes in the Bols Genever give the Aviation a nice body. 

Recipe variation 2 – Intensify the colour

Some bartenders and cocktail historians believe the original Aviation was made with Blue Curaçao rather than Crème de Violette. This seems like a plausible assumption as the Bols Blue Curaçao gives the cocktail a nice hint of orange, whereas the Crème de Violette (or Bols Parfait Amour) is kind of the odd one out in this cocktail. Blue Curaçao intensifies the sky blue colour that the Aviation cocktail is famous for. 

Recipe variation 3 – Change the flowers

You can replace the Bols Parfait Amour with another flowery liqueur like Bols Elderflower. You still have those floral notes that characterize the Aviation, but you lose the specific, somewhat soapy notes that the Parfait Amour adds. The colour of the cocktail will in this case be far less striking, though.