24 May 2009


John Thile at Lunar Policy reveals that I've been skipping an ingredient all these years!
After many months of periodic searching, I've finally found the new Rothman & Winter Creme de Violette, here in San Diego. Creme de violette, another of those old, once-lost-now-found liqueurs, has been unavailable to American mixologists for over a decade. Unlike absinthe, it's even difficult to find a way to import it online, leaving serious mixologists with many old cocktails that simply couldn't be made authentically. At least one cocktail, however, maintained some popularity sans violette: the Aviation. Yet, according to the initiated, an Aviation without violette is a whole other, inferior cocktail. Even the name Aviation is surmised to come from the properly-mixed cocktail's subtle, cloudy-blue, sky-like coloring.

Just recently, Haus Alpenz has begun importing a reportedly-excellent creme de violette from Austria, made by Rothman & Winter. I've been searching for it in vain, in San Diego and online, for the past year. At last, I have my very own bottle. I can finally begin to explore the violette cocktails, and I can finally mix a true Aviation. However, Gabriel Szaszko, of cocktailnerd.com, has introduced a new controversy to the Aviation! He's challenged the commonly-accepted notion that Luxardo, rather than Stock, is the most suited maraschino liqueur to the cocktail. I think this is because he favors Gary Regan's recipe, with its 1:½:½ ratio, which is far heavier on the maraschino than the traditional recipe, below. This recipe is from the earliest known record of the Aviation, as reported by the Robert Hess.

The Aviation

Shake with ice, strain into cocktail glass, garnish with cherry.

Mmmm, but was it worth the hunt, really? Yes, yes, undoubtedly! I enjoyed the Aviation sans violette, but always felt it was a maraschino showcase — a little one-dimensional, a little funky. The violette adds the third dimension. This cocktail, the true Aviation, achieves that fine, thought-provoking balance of flavors that marks the culinary cocktail. I had stopped mixing Aviations sans violette once the novelty of the maraschino wore off. Now, the Aviation is back on the menu.

And I've been using Luxardo maraschino! This is a disaster!

1 comment:

Kate said...

But do you have le creme de violette?