The Aviation

20140613-223056.jpgThe Aviation is a cocktail I had wanted to try making for a while; I liked the delicate blue colour it always seems to have, and the rather unusual collection of ingredients (gin, lemon juice, maraschino & creme de violette – although the last seems to be optional in many recipes).

The recipe is a variation on a sour – the gin is given a kick with the addition of lemon juice, sweetened with the maraschino liqueur and given a little colour and flavour by the dash(es) of Creme de Violette.

Proportions – the classic recipe (using a jigger/pony measure):

1 jigger of Gordon’s gin

1/2 pony of lemon juice (see below for thoughts on this)

1/4 pony of maraschino – I used Briottet‘s version, marasquin

Dash(es) of creme de violette – Bitter Truth‘s violet liqueur

Glass: 3oz Martini glass

Method: Put all ingredients into a shaker with ice & shake vigorously until well chilled. Strain into Martini glass & garnish with a single cherry (or, alternatively, a slice of lemon peel; flamed, if liked – presumably representing a ‘downed aviator’…).

I wasn’t taken by the results of this at all, which was a surprise. The proportions here create a drink with too acidic an attack from the lemon juice, which seems to linger in the back of the throat. I think the proportions are wrong, and would switch the amounts of maraschino & lemon juice around. But the drink is undeniably a pretty one, and may well appeal to Cosmopolitan drinkers who want something in a similar style, but less sweet. Classic recipes leave out the creme de violette, but it certainly gives the drink an attractive colour and an unusual flavour. It is worth tracking down.

Recipe notes: The sour base of this cocktail means that it features in quite a few variants. For example, drop the creme de violette in favour of a few drops of orange bitters, and this cocktail becomes a Casino.

Historical notes: The cocktail was invented by Hugo Esslin in New York, whilst working at the Hotel Wallick, and first recorded in his book, Recipes for Mixed Drinks in 1916. My facsimile copy of Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Guide from the 1930s, includes the recipe, but as noted before, lacks the creme de violette.

 

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Bitters (3)

The first batch of House bitters is bottled.
The first batch of House bitters is bottled.

The bitters I have made from the ‘House’ recipe in Brad Parson’s Bitters book are now bottled and ready to use.

I was really pleased by the way my first attempt turned out: the sour cherries in the recipe have given the bitters a fantastic fruity kick, with vanilla and star anise notes from the spices. I would like to make the recipe a little stronger next time; perhaps I need to find a stronger alcohol base for the extraction in future.

I have bottled the bitters in some herbal remedy bottles that I picked up on my shopping trip to Baldwin’s, and these not only give the bitters a professional touch, but also make them easier to use. The design of the label is taken from the Periodic Table, and I took the idea of ‘Bt’ element name from the original ‘BTP House bitters’ recipe, in homage to Brad Parsons.

3-4 drops at a time of the bitters adds a fantastic depth of flavour to my drinks, and I have successfully used this recipe in my Manhattan and Old-Fashioned cocktails recently.

I am now thinking about the flavours I want to use in the next batch – perhaps using traditional English flavourings like sloes or similar.

Manhattan: Rye

Simple 3oz Manhattan
Simple 3oz Manhattan

Purists will disagree, but I like my Manhattans perfect – not made to an exact recipe, or served without flaws, but made with a mix of sweet and dry vermouth. The dry vermouth – in this case, Noilly Prat – seems to complement the spicy hit of rye whiskey (Canadian Club), and the small amount of sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso) adds the roundness the cocktail is known for.  A few drops of Abbott’s bitters to add a pleasant spicy, vanilla-ish dimension, and that’s it. Just perfect, in every way. I add one maraschino cocktail cherry, and one that’s had some bitters added to the syrup in the jar to darken it a little more. Another option is a slice of orange peel, but the cherries seemed nicely retro this time.

Proportions (using a jigger/pony measure):

1 jigger of whiskey

1 pony of dry & sweet vermouth

4 drops bitters.

Glass: Small, or 3oz, Martini glass.

Shake until ice cold & strain into the glass. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

Historical footnote: The Manhattan is named after the club where the drink was first mixed in 1874. The Manhattan Club’s bartender was asked to create a drink for a party. The party, in honour of a politician named Samuel Tilden, was hosted Jennie Jerome – who went on to become Lady Randolph Churchill, and mother of Winston Churchill.