The Aviation

The Aviation

The Aviation

The Aviation

Oh happy day! The Aviation is one of my all-time favourite cocktails. If I were to laminate a top 5 list of preferred drinks it would proudly don a spot. But I have not done this because D says it’s cheesy and altogether unnecessary. But I digress…

As The Aviation holds such a special place in my heart, I am going to take a strong stand against the recipe in Ted Haigh’s book. Dr. Cocktail admits that The Aviation originally contained violette liqueur but neglects to include it in his formula. I am of the opinion that the violette makes this libation. What’s more, this is one of the few drinks in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails that can be found in most quality bartender’s guides. All but one of the books in my possession contain recipes for The Aviation.

Aviation Gin - House spirits Portland

Aviation Gin – House spirits Portland

And all but Haigh’s include the violette (or, in one case apricot brandy.) In the spirit of this project we will make Haigh’s version, but we will try out a few other blends as well.

Violette is undergoing a revival. When I first fell in love with this drink I was not yet able to find any form of violette locally, but this has changed. The Bitter Truth Violette Liqueur became available a few months ago and more recently we came across a bottle of the much-coveted Crème Yvette. The liqueurs are astoundingly different; The Bitter Truth violette offers intense floral aromas and an inky purple hue, while the Crème Yvette is sweeter and syrupy, more reminiscent of blackberries and vanilla with a softer burnt orange pigment. The Yvette is lovely on it’s own, reminding me of a sweet port, while The Bitter Truth is soapy and requires blending. As these spirits are used in minute quantities I imagine it will take my lifetime and then some to finish off these acquisitions, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

Bitter Truth Violette

Bitter Truth Violette

Crème Yvette

Crème Yvette

Over two tasting sessions we tried several variations of this drink. The recipe from the book, built upon a base of Aviation Gin, produced an exceptionally tart cocktail, more like a gin sour than any Aviation I’ve ever had. Quite apart from the omission of the violette I found it lacking in maraschino. We are both perplexed as to why Haigh left out the violette, this being about vintage and forgotten cocktails wouldn’t it make sense to cite the original formula? While not a devastating crash this recipe should certainly be lost with the luggage.

Starting anew with the original 1916 recipe by Hugo Ensslin found in David Wondrich’s Imbibe! and using Beefeater London Dry Gin, we sampled separate variations using Crème Yvette and The Bitter Truth Violette Liquer.

Right Yvette, Left Bitter Truth

Right Yvette, Left Bitter Truth

While both were satisfactory neither was an overwhelming success. The Crème Yvette produced a cocktail with a nice sweetness but lacking the floral qualities that I have come to associate with this drink. It was also the wrong colour. One expects a pale sky blue hue from this drink, not a murky purple that could only be associated with the most devastating of storms. The Bitter Truth liqueur, on the other hand, was fragrant and bloomy but decidedly lacked sweetness. I was disappointed with both versions and was quickly becoming disillusioned.

The next logical step was to use both the The Bitter Truth violette and the Crème Yvette mixed in equal proportions in the same cocktail. This was an improvement. The resultant cocktail now contained both a sweetness and a floral quality, though not enough of either. However upping the quantity of both does nothing to solve the problem, it merely hijacks the drink, masking the maraschino and citrus and gin.

Determined to perfect this cocktail I searched the Aviation Gin website for their recipe, and am I ever glad I did. This version includes ¼ ounce of simple syrup (I used home-made gomme syrup)

Simple Syrup

Simple Syrup

which, when combined with The Bitter Truth Violette Liqueur exclusively, became the solution to my problem. The drink was now appropriately floral and sufficiently sweet. It was also a majestic sky blue that made me want to launch into a chorus of the Army Air Corps Song.

The Aviation offers ample opportunity for adjustment to personal taste. David Wondrich notes that the original Ensslin recipe contains more violette than he finds pleasing. For my part I like a fair dose of violette but prefer some additional sweetness from simple syrup. And while I’m happy with a London Dry Gin as the base, D “likes to go first class,” preferring the more assertive Aviation Gin and omitting any added sugar. It may take several attempts but I’m sure you can find your perfect version too!

http://badassdigest.com/2012/08/10/your-guide-to-drinking-this-weekend-the-aviation/

http://aviationgin.com/recipes/the-aviation-cocktail/

Note: Several weeks after our initial experiments I attempted the Aviation Gin recipe with the addition of an egg white. I really enjoyed the silky smooth texture afforded by the egg white. It also had a pleasant blue-white color that I could describe as “snowflake.” D suggested I name my creation and I immediately blurted out “The Fortress of Solitude!”

The Aviation

The Aviation

I was, of course, referring to Superman’s crystalline stronghold, but D, whose geekdom extends only to subjects with “star” in the title, did not understand my reference. He practically spat out his drink while declaring: “that is the absolute worst name for a cocktail!” And of course, it is. We henceforth banished the name, but I suspect that, as with many inside jokes, the damage has been done.

(Several weeks after “creating” the above I discovered that it has been done before, by the masterful Robert Hess no less, and has a proper name: The Eagle’s Dream Cocktail.)

http://www.smallscreennetwork.com/video/849/cocktail-spirit-eagles-dream-cocktail/

The Aviation (K’s preferred version)

Several months after writing this article we came across a bottle of Crème de Violette on our travels. It is now our violet liqueur of choice, though The Bitter Truth Violet remains an excellent stand-in.

  • 1.5 ounces gin (Aviation if you are feeling assertive, otherwise Broker’s works well)
  • 1 tsp violet liqueur (preferably Crème de Violette)
  • .5 ounce Luxardo Maraschino
  • .75 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • .25 ounce gomme syrup (optional)

Shake over ice. Strain. Garnish with lemon twist or cherry or both. Break into song.

The Aviation ingredients

The Aviation ingredients

The Avenue

The Avenue

The Avenue

The Avenue

We usually aim at making one cocktail a week and start our planning and reconnaissance well in advance. The Avenue seemed like a cinch in comparison to the many recipes in our cocktail bible that call for uncommon and scarce liqueurs. I made the pomegranate grenadine from scratch and we easily found Calvados and Maker’s Mark Bourbon at the BCLDB.

Calvados

Calvados

But as predicted by Dr. Cocktail the largest hurdle to making this drink was the unattainability of passion fruit nectar. We searched high and low (and north and south and east and west) but every product we came across was either a “juice blend” with passion fruit listed near the end of the ingredients list, or a passion fruit syrup. Admittedly we could have substituted the syrup for the pomegranate grenadine, an option Ted Haigh provides in the notes to his recipe, but as you may have surmised, D loves a good challenge. After 3 days of searching D proudly arrived home with three whole passion fruit that he obtained at a speciality grocer. I carefully extracted the juice, using a fine sieve and the back of a spoon.

Passion fruit Nectar

Passion fruit Nectar

The three fruit produced a whopping ½ cup of juice at a cost of about 15 dollars, making the nectar, ounce for ounce, by far the most expensive ingredient in the drink. The product of the Avenue is a boozy whiskey cocktail with a heavy dose of tart fruitiness from the passion fruit and pomegranate. There is a good amount of apple on the nose as well as smokiness from the Maker’s Mark. On the palate the cocktail is reminiscent of a fresh plum with hints of date, caramel, pineapple, smoke, and oak. Despite the grenadine,

Pomegranate Grenadine

Pomegranate Grenadine

The Avenue is not a sweet cocktail. D says this is a fruit forward drink. He went so far as to declare it his “five alive!” I say perhaps, for a whiskey drinker. For my part this was the first whiskey cocktail from this book that I would be happy to make again. I liked the juxtaposition of the sweet and tart and the way it intermingled with the malt. One final note of caution to anyone choosing to produce the passion fruit nectar from whole fruit: get the rinds out of the house ASAP. I threw ours in the garbage can and woke to an infestation of fruit flies.

The Avenue

  • 1 ounce bourbon (we used Maker’s Mark)
  • 1 ounce Calvados
  • 1 ounce pure passion fruit juice
  • 1 dash homemade pomegranate grenadine
  • 1 dash orange flower water

Shake over ice. Strain.

The Avenue

The Avenue ingredients

Arnaud’s Special Cocktail

Arnaud’s Special Cocktail

Arnaud Special Cocktail

Arnaud Special Cocktail

Owing to the fact that we had to skip over the Amarosa Cocktail I was a little daunted at the prospect of another in-your-face whiskey drink. This gin girl can handle her bourbon, but I’m out of my league when it comes to scotch. Luckily D lives for a good scotch cocktail and was completely in his element.

As we had a couple of brands of scotch and a couple different bitters on hand we decided to test several variations of this drink. We made D’s with Johnny Walker Red,

Johnny Walker Red

Johnny Walker Red

as suggested by Dr. Cocktail, and Fee’s Orange Bitters. I concocted my libation with Glenfiddich and Angostura Orange Bitters. Both cocktails exhibited notes of orange, bing cherry, coffee, moss, and band-aid, but Doug’s was more peaty, notably so, while mine was sharper from the bolder Angostura bitters.

We were both surprised at the refreshing quality of this beverage. I had expected to be breathing out whisky vapours, but the Dubonnet quelled the scotch.

Dubonnet Rouge

Dubonnet Rouge

For his part D was looking for more intensity from the scotch. While not dissatisfied with the drink he nevertheless declared Arnaud’s Special Cocktail to be “an afternoon drink” and likened the concoction to a “scotch sangria.”

In an attempt to amp up the scotch flavour D devised a third version using 1½ ounces Johnny Walker Red, ½ ounce Laphroig, 1 ounce Dubonnet Rouge and 3 dashes of Fee’s Orange Bitters. The result was a peat bomb.

The Laphroaig completely overpowered the delicate flavours offered by the aperitif and the bitters.

Laphroaig

Laphroaig

Our consensus: use a blended or lowland scotch for subtlety and balance.

Arnaud’s Special Cocktail

  • 2 ounces scotch (such as Johnny Walker Red)
  • 1 ounce Dubonnet Rouge
  • 3 dashes orange bitters (we like Angostura Orange)

Shake over ice. Strain. Garnish with an orange twist.

 

Arnaud Special Cocktail ingredients

Arnaud Special Cocktail ingredients

The Amarosa

The Amarosa Cocktail

Sadly, we are going to have to skip over this cocktail for the time being, as we have been unable to locate the Amaro Cora. I wanted to try it with Amaro Montenegro but D was adamant that as we have no benchmark for what the cocktail is supposed to taste like, we would merely be flying blind. I argued that it might nevertheless be fun to experiment, to which he replied that I could throw any three liquors in a shaker and call it an experiment but it would have nothing to do with this particular quest. Touché.

 

The Algonquin Cocktail

The Algonquin Cocktail

Algonquin Cocktail

Algonquin Cocktail

After the endless ingredients list required for the Alamagoozlum, The Algonquin Cocktail looked like a day at the beach. But while the assembly was easy enough, our results were less successful.

The Algonquin Cocktail is a rye forward drink. D was actually worried that the pineapple juice would overpower the rye, but that was not the case. Perhaps we used the wrong rye, we settled on a bonded Rittenhouse Rye – and when I say settled I mean that was the only American rye available at the BCLDB.

Rittenhouse Rye

Rittenhouse Rye

We actually contemplated using a bourbon or a Canadian whisky but it seemed too early in the project to start cutting corners.

Our resultant libation was a very dry cocktail with notes of wood and pepper. D claimed to be getting a fair amount of pineapple on the finish, but try as I might, I couldn’t find it through the booziness of the rye.

Unsatisfied, I decided to try the Queen Anne variation, adding a couple of dashes of peach bitters. This smoothed the drink out slightly, giving my palate more notes to hang on to, but was still not for me.

For his second round D decided to stir his drink rather than shake it, a piece of advice adopted from Robert Hess’ webisode on The Algonquin Cocktail. We both agreed that the drink seemed mellower and that we’d make it this way in the future.

Our experiment being a moderate flop, D took a trip to West specifically to try out their version of The Algonquin Cocktail.

Algonquin Cocktail

Algonquin Cocktail

As we had predicted they used a milder rye and the pineapple flavour was more pronounced. D claims to enjoy this libation, but argues that there are plenty of cocktails he’d choose before he ever got back to this one. For my part, I enjoyed the experiment but it is not a drink I will add to my rotation.

Watch Robert Hess make The Algonquin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooGw8Pr_eHY

 

 

 

The Algonquin Cocktail

  • 1.5 ounces rye (we used Rittenhouse)
  • .75 ounces dry vermouth
  • .75 ounces pineapple juice

Shake over ice. Strain.

Algonquin Ingredients

Algonquin Ingredients

The Alamagoozlum

The Alamagoozlum

Alamagoozlum Coctail

Even after making this cocktail I still have to look up the spelling. And the pronunciation? That’s anyone’s guess. What I can say with certainty is that despite the seemingly endless list of ingredients this cocktail is worth making.

There was a lot of anticipation surrounding this drink, this being our first of the project, and having spent the better part of two weeks tracking down ingredients. Our provincial liquor stores seem to feel that curacao should be blue. This is perplexing to me – what about fresh tropical oranges suggests a synthetic blue hue? Oragne CuracaoCall me a snob but I have yet to figure out why anyone would imbibe something that looks like, and probably tastes similar to, antifreeze. Luckily our friends at Legacy Liquor were able to help us out, providing us with the very last bottle “for quite some time” of Pierre Ferrard Ancienne Methode Dry Curacao. And wow, what a find! Made from curacao orange peels and a blend of spices the depth of flavor of this liqueur is starling, reminding me at once of Cointreau and Drambuie.

There was some debate over yellow versus green chartreuse. D wanted to start with the yellow, but I was a holdout for the green. Admittedly I had ulterior motives, green chartreuse is a major component of one of my favorite cocktails, The Last Word, and once we had a bottle in the house I’d be just a measure and a shake away from bliss. Green ChartreuseWe settled on the green.

Ironically, after all our careful prep and procurement, our first batch of Almagoozlums contained no chartreuse at all. After photographing all the bottles D read out the ingredients as I measured, then we took turns shaking. We shook until our hands froze to the metal shaker then strained it into two crystal glasses we had gleefully obtained at an estate sale earlier in the week. The libation was a beautiful dark color with a frothy rim and a silky mouthfeel. It looked exactly like the picture in the book and we were very pleased with the taste. Alamagoozlum CoctailWe both agreed it was worth the effort and started to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. It was only when I commented that the cocktail didn’t seem as boozy as I had imagined that we turned back to the recipe and realized that we had forgotten the chartreuse.

Always ones to correct the errors of our ways we started anew. Bazinga! Our first concoction had been pleasant, with notes of orange and some spice from the bitters, but the true Alamagoozlum is a knockout. It is at once citrusy, spicy, and woody. It’s definitely a sweeter style cocktail but with a boozy bite and sharpness from the spice. It has a luscious, creamy body, thanks to the egg white and the gomme syrup.

I should note here that we made our own gomme syrup. I would have cheated and made a rich simple syrup without the Gomme Arabic, but D was insistent that we do things properly. Gomme Syrup-1He tracked down the Acacia at a restaurant supply shop and put me in charge of the mixture. While we both doubted the recipe I used at times, the resultant syrup was thick and rich and well worth the effort.

 

 

 

 

 

The Alamagoozlum (serves 2-3)

  • ½ egg white
  • 2 ounces genever gin (we used Boomsma)
  • 2 ounces water
  • 1.5 ounces Jamaican rum (we used Appleton)
  • 1.5 ounce Chartreuse (we used green)
  • 1.5 ounces gomme syrup
  • .5 ounce orange curacao (Pierre Ferrand is great)
  • .5 ounce Angostura Bitters

Add the egg white to a large clean dry cocktail shaker. Shake long and hard. Add the remaining ingredients and ice. Shake again until frost coats the outside of the shaker. Strain into chilled cocktail glasses. 

The Alamagoozlum ingredients

The Alamagoozlum ingredients