I admit it.
An Aviation is much more flight-worthy with just a drop of the odd 'n' quasi-archaic liqueur in it. And it DOES seem to be an ingredient in the oldest recipes I've come across for this gin sour. AND it does also seem to be a topic of hot discussion in blogs that deal with cocktails only (instead of cocktails and free-form radio and the life of me like this blog).
I had a perfectly balanced, faintly violet-hued Aviation at Vessel in Seattle the weekend before last, and I'm here to tell you that I've had a conversion experience.
Spent some time back home here in NY trying to update my Aviation recipe. You have to be careful with Creme de Violette. Too much of the stuff and it does indeed taste like "licking a French whore's neck, and not in a good way", as another blogger has noted. The closest I've come to true Aviation satisfaction has been this spin on Paul Harrington's formulation from Cocktail:
1 and 1/2 oz. good gin (not Hendricks, though!)
3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 oz. maraschino
1/4 oz. creme de violette
Shake hard and serve up in an a chilled cocktail glass, garnished with a cherry. If this seems tart to you--and it is pretty tart--add a few drops more maraschino, not creme de violette. If you're going to the trouble of getting creme de violette, you might want to consider putting up your own cocktail cherries--not a big deal if you use the frozen ones that come pre-pitted but not sugared.
For the cherries: Cook 'em up in a pan with a little simple syrup and water, maybe half a cup for a supermarket packet or two of frozen cherries (or use orgeat and water). Simmer just a minute or two. Scoop with a slotted spoon into a jar. Pour over them about 3/4 to one cup of not-precious brandy and top off with the cooking juices. Pop in a cinnamon stick if you want. These'll keep several weeks at least in the fridge.
This week on Cocktails with Chris--klezmer bluegrass, farewell to Mary Travers, and some Bumbershoot leftovers!