Saturday, February 23, 2013
My friend Julie Keane posted a picture of of an Aviation maybe a year ago and that began the major cocktail craze I’ve been on since then. Of course I’ve always made lovely drinks. And there is nothing more perfect than a gin and tonic in the summer. But I hadn’t been mixing drinks with gin at home. Bourbon, margaritas, mojitos, dark and stormy’s, and actually if I correct myself I was making some nice gin drinks with Aperol and grapefruit. But that picture of an Aviation and the ingredients set me off. And it wasn’t even blue! I bought some Luxardo maraschino liqueur and made one without the creme de violette, and it was delicious, but became determined to do it right. I haven’t let go of this thing since. It is perfect.
If you are unfamiliar with maraschino liqueur, you should get familiar with it because a lot of classic cocktails need it. It is made from both the pits and the flesh of the Marasca cherry, which is why it’s got a strong almond note to the taste. Creme de violette is just what it sounds like, a sweet liqueur made of violet flowers, possibly with other colorants added. There used to be none imported in the US, but now you can find the Rothman & Winter brand everywhere, though that’s about the only brand you can get in the US. Aviations are so popular I don’t even know why I’m posting this.
The original recipe for this drink sounds sour as hell, it’s got a lot of lemon, and very little maraschino or creme de violette to take the edge off that lemon. Here are the proportions I usually end up using, but this time I tried it with a meyer lemon and it was maybe a little sweet, I would back off on Luxardo and creme de violette. So this is how it went last night:
2oz Greenhook Gin (if you want a sweeter drink you can go 1.5oz)
1/2 oz lemon juice (in this case meyer, but that’s just a twist on it)
1/2 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
anywhere from 2 barspoons to 1/4 oz of Creme de Violette
The goal is enough of the violet stuff to get the drink blue, but not as purple as here and not gray which it will be if you use too little. I find when I’m making one drink, just under a 1/4 ounce works, or 3 barspoons. There is perhaps a little much in the drink shown here but it’s pretty.
The traditional garnish is a lemon peel. But you often see them with a beautiful red maraschino cherry in them. They look great that way and I love the way that a stem on cherry has a handle to take little bites. However those store bought cherries have a lot of cinnamon in them, and taste kind of like garbage. I actually bought Luxardo’s marasca cherries, which are delicious and black, but do not pretty up this drink. I think the solution will be to make my own stem on cocktail cherries when cherries are in season.