The Aviation is one of those gorgeous classic cocktails that’s still considered a little obscure in modern bar culture. Its pretty purple hue comes from a mix of maraschino liqueur and crème de violette, which you couldn’t even buy in the United States after it went out of fashion in the 1960s. Luckily, Rothman & Winter released a classic crème de violette in 2007, which prompted bartenders to reintroduce the cocktail to menus. While it still flies under the radar, every gin lover should try this classic at home. Here, the five best gins to mix in an Aviation.
The name of this gin says it all. Every bottle of the small batch bottling is crafted in Portland, Oregon, at the House Spirits Distillery, and the gin’s subtle flavor is perfect for mixing in a complex classic like the Aviation. It’s light on the juniper and includes botanicals like sarsaparilla, French lavender and cardamom to give it a light floral flavor and smooth finish. It provides a solid backbone for the Aviation cocktail while allowing the maraschino and crème de violette to shine.
Plymouth Gin Original has been distilled at the Black Friars Distillery using the same method and ingredients since 1793, and it’s easy to see that perfection is their business upon first sip. Juniper, coriander and cardamom are immediately present on the nose, but the full-bodied spirit has a smooth, creamy flavor on the palate. It has an elegant finish (with some dry notes, thanks to angelica root) that helps to elongate the Aviation’s floral flavors.
While Bombay Sapphire may be the more popular bottling from this U.K. distillery, we love the way the robust original London Dry tastes in an Aviation. Bombay London Dry Gin has been made to the same recipe since 1761 and uses vapor infusion to distill its eight essential botanicals. Its traditional flavor brings juniper to the forefront while botanicals like cassia bark, orris root and lemon peel provide some backup. Its extra dry finish melds with the flavors in an Aviation to give your palate bursts of nuanced flavors.
This small batch, London Dry style gin is made from five locally-foraged botanicals like rowan berry and dandelion leaf, along with six traditional ones, and it’s quadruple-distilled to ensure the smoothest flavor possible. Crisp, fresh and citrusy, this gin’s bright notes perk up the sometimes heavy flavors of the Aviation. It’s the perfect spirit to mix in the cocktail if you’re tasting it for the first time.
Distilled in Australia’s Yarra Valley, Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin strikes the perfect balance between spicy and tangy. The distillery uses whole oranges and lemon myrtle to give it bright, citrusy notes, while botanicals like cinnamon and Tasmanian pepperberry leaf add heat on the palate. While this gin is quite bold on its own, its vivid, citrus-forward flavors make it a solid match for the robust mix of maraschino and crème de violette.