Last night was another packed CPCC meeting, at which we paid tribute to one of the most elusive cocktails most folks will ever know: The Aviation.

The evening began with a tasting of the key ingredient in the classic (pre-Prohibition) Aviation: violette liqueur, in particular my favorite, which is manufactured by G. Miclo, the French distillery located in a valley an hour or so southwest of Strasbourg. It was procured by my editor for the violette liqueurs story we ran a month or so back and sampled alongside both Rothman & Winter’s crème de violette and the newly available (in Chicago, at least) Crème Yvette, and we agreed the Miclo serves the aperitif role nicest of the three.

The lore of the Aviation was fleshed out by some projected archival footage (found by the beau) of early aviation trips, followed by a brief history of the aviation craze of the 1910s-30s, which no doubt fueled many different drinks of the same name.

For historical accuracy’s sake, in mixing for CPCC, I went with the earliest printed recipe, published in 1916 in Recipes for Mixed Drinks, compiled by NYC bartender Hugo Ensslin:

The Aviation (from Recipes for Mixed Drinks, 1916)
1/3 lemon juice
2/3 El Bart gin (as El Bart is long defunct, I used Tanqueray but have heard Plymouth works wonders)
2 dashes maraschino (I used Luxardo)
2 dashes crème de violette (I used Rothman & Winter)

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice; shake, strain and serve in a cocktail glass.

The fruits of all this research can be previewed by downloading the May presentation, but the fine-tuned article will run in the Tribune next week in my Nightcap column. Perhaps by then, I will have solved the mystery of how that crucial, final ingredient was so carelessly left off out of the Aviation recipe that appeared in 1930’s “The Savoy Cocktail Book”…