Creme de Cassis Aviation Cocktail

The Crème de Cassis Aviation Cocktail is a sophisticated twist on the classic Aviation, a staple of 20th-century American cocktail culture. By infusing the traditional recipe with crème de cassis, this variation introduces a rich berry sweetness that complements the drink’s sharp citrus and floral notes.

Crème de cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur, deepens the flavor profile and adds a luxurious hue that makes the cocktail as visually appealing as it is delectable.

A crystal-clear coupe glass filled with a deep purple creme de cassis aviation cocktail, garnished with a single maraschino cherry and a twist of lemon peel

When you blend the botanical complexity of gin with the tartness of lemon juice, the cherry nuances of maraschino liqueur, and the sweet, fruity depth of crème de cassis, you create a cocktail experience that’s both refreshing and nuanced.

This combination creates a layered beverage that is perfect for sipping at an elegant soirée or for enjoying as a relaxing treat at the end of your day.

Crafting your own Crème de Cassis Aviation Cocktail doesn’t require professional bartending skills.

With a simple collection of ingredients and a basic cocktail shaker, you’re well-equipped to mix a drink that promises to deliver a taste of the Golden Age of Cocktails with a modern twist.

Whether it’s for a special toast or just to enjoy a sophisticated sipper, this cocktail is sure to elevate your home mixology repertoire.

The History of the Aviation Cocktail

A crystal clear coupe glass filled with a vibrant purple Aviation cocktail, garnished with a Luxardo cherry and a twist of lemon peel, sitting on a sleek, reflective bar top

The Aviation cocktail is a classic mix embodying the early 20th-century spirit, evolving through notable bartenders and cocktail guides.

Origin and Evolution

Your exploration of the Aviation cocktail begins with its creation in New York City at the Hotel Wallick.

It’s the brainchild of German-born bartender Hugo Ensslin, dating back to the early 20th century. Initially, it combined gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and the distinctive crème de violette.

  • First Published Recipe: Recipes for Mixed Drinks (1916) by Hugo Ensslin
  • Key Ingredients: Gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette

Over time, the Aviation experienced changes. Most notably, Harry Craddock omitted crème de violette in the 1930 version featured in The Savoy Cocktail Book, likely due to availability issues.

Key Figures

Two individuals stand out in your journey through the Aviation’s history:

  • Hugo Ensslin: Your pilot in the Aviation’s creation, he first served this cocktail at the Hotel Wallick and authored the recipe in his book, putting the drink on the map.
  • Harry Craddock: As a significant steward in the cocktail’s journey, Craddock’s influence in The Savoy Cocktail Book altered the recipe and impacted its circulation during the 20th century.

Ingredients and Equipment

A bottle of creme de cassis, a shaker, a cocktail glass, ice, a jigger, a strainer, and a lemon for garnish on a clean, well-lit bar

Creating a Crème de Cassis Aviation cocktail requires a balance of specific ingredients to achieve its unique, light, and refreshing taste. It’s important to use quality elements to enhance the cocktail’s floral and sour notes.

Primary Ingredients

  • Gin: The base spirit that imparts a complex botanical flavor profile. Ensure it is of good quality.
  • Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed to add a refreshing tartness.
  • Maraschino Liqueur: Contributes a subtle cherry flavor with a hint of vanilla.
  • Crème de Violette: Adds a floral touch and a beautiful lavender color.
  • Crème de Cassis: A sweet, dark berry liqueur that provides the cocktail’s signature flavor.

Additional Elements

  • Simple Syrup: If preferred, it can be infused with ingredients like rosemary to complement the drink’s botanical characteristics.
  • Elderflower Liqueur: Optionally adds a sweet and fragrant aroma.
  • Ice: Essential for chilling the cocktail.
  • Garnish: Typically a cocktail cherry or a lemon twist to enhance presentation.

Equipment Needed

  • Cocktail Shaker: For properly mixing and chilling the ingredients.
  • Cocktail Glass: To serve the drink; typically a martini glass is used.
  • Jigger: To measure the ingredients precisely.

Preparation Techniques

A hand pours creme de cassis into a mixing glass with ice, followed by gin and lemon juice. The mixture is then shaken and strained into a chilled cocktail glass

Crafting the perfect Crème de Cassis Aviation Cocktail involves a meticulous process to balance its sweet and tart flavors. Mastering the preparation techniques ensures you can recreate this classic recipe with finesse.

Mixing Methods

For cocktails like the Aviation, which demand a harmonious blend of flavors, your technique is crucial.

To start, you should shake the ingredients – excluding the crème de cassis – with ice to properly dilute and chill the mix, enhancing the drink’s smoothness.

  • Shaking:
    • Fill your cocktail shaker with the main ingredients: gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and optionally, crème de violette liqueur.
    • Add ice to the shaker until it is approximately half full.
    • Seal your shaker and shake vigorously for around 15 seconds to chill and dilute the cocktail adequately.

Garnishing Tips

A visually stunning garnish not only adds flair but can also complement the drink’s tasting notes.

The traditional garnish for an Aviation cocktail is a lemon twist, serving to elevate the citrus notes within the drink and provide an aromatic experience.

  • Lemon Twist:
    • Use a sharp knife or a peeler to cut a thin strip of lemon peel, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith.
    • Express (twist) the lemon peel over the cocktail to release its oils, and then either drape it on the rim or drop it into the drink.

Serving Suggestions

Your choice of glassware and the presentation can greatly influence the drinking experience.

Serve the Aviation cocktail in a chilled coupe glass, which will not only showcase the drink’s elegant hue but also concentrate its delicate aromas for a more intense flavor.

  • Coupe Glass:
    • Prior to mixing your cocktail, place the coupe glass in the freezer or fill it with ice water to chill it thoroughly.
    • Once the glass is chilled and the drink is mixed, remove any ice or water from the glass and strain the cocktail into the center of the coupe, allowing the crème de cassis to sink and create a beautiful gradient.

Variations of the Aviation Cocktail

A glass filled with a purple-hued Aviation Cocktail sits on a marble countertop, garnished with a cherry and a twist of lemon peel

The Aviation Cocktail is a time-honored classic, but the creativity it inspires in variations is extensive. You’ll find the balance of sweet and sour manipulated with different ingredients, from berries to bitters.

Classic vs. Modern Takes

Classic Aviation

  • Ingredients: Gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, lemon juice
  • Key Point: Traditional version maintains a floral and tart balance.

Modern Aviation

  • Ingredients: Gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de cassis, lime juice, rosemary simple syrup, lavender bitters
  • Key Point: Contemporary spins add depth with herby syrups and bitters.

Alternative Recipes

Kir Royale Cocktail

  • Ingredients: Crème de cassis, champagne
  • Serving Suggestion: Best enjoyed as a sophisticated and bubbly aperitif.

Bramble Cocktail

  • Ingredients: Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, crème de cassis (drizzle)
  • Textures: Showcases crème de cassis as a sweetening finish with a nod to berries.

French Martini

  • Profile: Features the blackcurrant flavor prominently paired with rich flavors of vodka and pineapple juice.

Sinatra Smash

  • Twist: Crème de cassis plays alongside bourbon, simple syrup, and muddled blackberries for a rendition that’s as smooth as its namesake.

Crème de Cassis as a Modifier

When you mix Crème de Cassis into a cocktail, it introduces a rich berry sweetness that can profoundly affect the overall flavor profile. This liqueur acts as a modifier by both enhancing and balancing the flavors with its unique characteristics.

Impact on Taste

Crème de Cassis offers a deep berry flavor that adds a pronounced sweetness to any cocktail.

The natural sugar content in Crème de Cassis can soften the sharpness of spirits, like dry gin, providing a rounded and harmonious taste.

When you use it in the right measure, Crème de Cassis ensures that the sweetness does not overpower but instead complements the existing flavor palette, striking an ideal balance.

  • Sweetness: Enhances the overall perception of sweetness in the cocktail.
  • Berry Notes: Introduces a rich, blackcurrant flavor that can add complexity to simple concoctions.

Complementary Flavors

Crème de Cassis pairs exceptionally well with floral and citrus elements typically found in cocktails.

The floral notes from ingredients like lavender bitters or elderflower liqueur are amplified, creating a layered taste experience.

  • Floral: It complements and intensifies other floral notes in the drink.
  • Berry and Sweet: The berry sweetness of Crème de Cassis can mellow the bite of dry gin and add depth.

It’s essential to use Crème de Cassis judiciously as its sugary and fruit-forward profile can easily dominate less assertive flavors.

In the case of a Crème de Cassis Aviation cocktail, a perfect balance is struck that allows the floral and dry elements of the gin to remain perceptible alongside the sweetness of the liqueur.

Tips for a Perfect Crème de Cassis Aviation Cocktail

Creating a Crème de Cassis Aviation cocktail that stands out involves careful selection of ingredients, attention to the balance of flavors, and an eye for presentation.

Paying attention to these details will ensure that your cocktail has the perfect blend of floral and sweet notes, with a unique character.

Choosing Quality Ingredients

  • Gin: Opt for a quality gin with a botanical profile that complements the crème de cassis. Brands with light floral notes can add depth to your cocktail.
  • Crème de Cassis: Select a high-grade crème de cassis for its rich berry sweetness.
  • Lime Juice: Always use fresh lime juice to add brightness and acidity, balancing the sweetness of the crème de cassis.
  • Elderflower Liqueur: A good elderflower liqueur will contribute subtle floral notes without overpowering the other ingredients.
  • Accompaniments: For a twist, consider how other ingredients, like bourbon or ginger beer, might pair with your cocktail to create a unique experience.

Taste Balancing

  • Sweet vs. Acidic: Balance the sweet crème de cassis with the tartness of lime juice to avoid an overly sweet cocktail.
  • Adding Bitters: A dash of lavender bitters can enhance the cocktail’s floral aspect, bringing an additional layer of complexity.
  • Trial and Error: Don’t hesitate to experiment with proportions to find the perfect balance for your taste buds.


  • Glassware: Serve in an elegant coupe glass to highlight the cocktail’s sophistication.
  • Garnish: A sprig of rosemary or a twist of lime peel can add aromatic appeal and elevate the visual presentation.
  • Color: The rich red hue of the crème de cassis should shine through, so mix the cocktail gently to maintain its vibrant color.

Pairing and Occasions

A crystal-clear coupe glass filled with a pale lavender liquid, garnished with a delicate twist of lemon peel and a single floating violet petal

When you savor a Crème de Cassis Aviation cocktail, you’re indulging in a complex interplay of sweet, sour, and floral notes. Selecting the right food pairings can elevate your experience, just as choosing the appropriate occasion ensures the drink’s elegance shines through.

Food Pairings

Your Crème de Cassis Aviation cocktail, a symphony of sweet Crème de Cassis and sour lime juice, pairs wonderfully with light, flavorful dishes.

The floral notes of the cocktail harmonize particularly well with:

  • Brunch items: such as lemon-drizzled smoked salmon on toast or a fresh garden salad that won’t overshadow the cocktail’s subtle flavors.
  • Desserts: especially those that are not overly sweet, like a lemon sorbet or a fruit tart, providing a refreshing balance.

Pairings should complement the drink’s floral and light traits, rather than compete with them.

Suitable Occasions

The Crème de Cassis Aviation cocktail’s refreshing and sophisticated character makes it a delightful choice for:

  • Summer gatherings: where a cooling and chic drink is in demand.
  • Spring celebrations: to echo the floral notes of the season.

Whether it’s a relaxed afternoon brunch or an evening of refined entertainment, your cocktail sets a tone of understated elegance.

Brand Recommendations

When crafting a Crème de Cassis Aviation cocktail, the choice of brands can make a significant difference in taste and quality. You want to select brands that are well-respected and that align with the classic profiles needed for this cocktail.

Gin Selection

  • Hendrick’s Gin: You may find the unique rose and cucumber infusion of Hendrick’s Gin complements the sweetness of crème de cassis.
  • Byron Dry Gin: For a traditional approach, Byron Dry Gin offers a crispness that can balance the richer liqueur flavors.

Crème de Cassis and Other Liqueurs

  • Giffard Crème de Cassis: A favorite for its authenticity and deep berry flavor, Giffard can elevate your cocktail’s profile. Liqueur Brand Note Maraschino Liqueur Luxardo Its distinct flavor is crucial for an Aviation cocktail riff. Crème de Violette The Bitter Truth, Haus Alpenz Either brand adds the correct floral note if you prefer the classic Aviation. Elderflower Liqueur St. Germain While not traditional, it can add a floral sweetness that pairs well. Parfait Amour Giffard If you want an alternative to crème de violette, try Parfait Amour for a subtle citrus and vanilla hint.

Your selection of gin and liqueurs will define the final taste of your Crème de Cassis Aviation cocktail, so choose brands that match your flavor preferences and the complexity you’re aiming for.

Cocktail Culture and Trends

A sleek, modern bar with a row of colorful bottles. A bartender expertly pours creme de cassis into a cocktail shaker, surrounded by trendy aviation cocktail ingredients

In the landscape of mixology, you have witnessed a cocktail renaissance, characterized by a return to classic flavors and unique presentations. This trend has ushered in a newfound appreciation for cocktails that not only taste exquisite but also boast visually striking characteristics.

The Rise of Craft Cocktails

Craft cocktails have surged in popularity due to your increasing desire for quality and originality in your drinking experience. This movement focuses on:

  • Classic Cocktails: Reverence for historical recipes with modern twists.
  • Unique Ingredients: Incorporation of uncommon, sometimes locally sourced, ingredients that transform the flavor profile of a classic cocktail, like the crème de cassis in an Aviation cocktail, which introduces a rich berry note.
  • Presentation: The visual appeal of the drink, including vibrant colors such as the violet hue of the Aviation cocktail, served in an elegant cocktail glass.

Not only are these craft cocktails a hit in upscale bars, but they have also taken a strong hold in popular cities like New York City, which has long been a central hub for cocktail innovation.

Influence on Popular Culture

Your interest in the restored glory of cocktails has permeated popular culture, reflecting:

  • Cocktail Glass Iconography: The iconic silhouette of a cocktail glass has become synonymous with sophistication in various forms of media.
  • Founders and Trendsetters: Figures who have been pivotal in the cocktail scene, like the founder of the Aviation cocktail, Hugo Ensslin, garner recognition for their contributions to the art of mixology.

This influence suggests that the elements of craft and heritage in cocktails continue to captivate you, stimulating a community of enthusiasts and aficionados who celebrate the evolution and diversity of cocktail culture.

Nutrition and Consumption

A glass filled with creme de cassis aviation cocktail, surrounded by fresh berries and a sprig of mint, set on a sleek bar counter

In considering the Creme de Cassis Aviation Cocktail, you should be aware of the nutritional aspects and the importance of responsible consumption due to its alcohol content.

Nutritional Information

When enjoying a Creme de Cassis Aviation Cocktail, it’s vital to know its nutritional facts. A typical serving contains:

  • Calories: The cocktail can average around 200-250 calories per serving, depending greatly on the specific recipe and portion size.
  • Alcohol Content: This drink typically contains gin and liqueurs, which have varying proofs but generally contribute to a higher alcohol content in comparison to non-spirited beverages.

It’s worth noting that liqueurs like Crème de Cassis may add additional sugars to the drink, increasing its caloric content.

Responsible Drinking

Alcohol Proof: Cocktails such as the Aviation can have a higher proof because of the distilled spirits involved. The proof is twice the alcohol by volume (ABV). For instance, a spirit with 40% ABV would be 80 proof.

You should always consume alcoholic beverages like this cocktail in moderation. Adhering to recommended guidelines will ensure safety and health. It’s best to space out drinks and keep track of your intake. Additionally, consider food intake and hydration as factors that influence alcohol effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

A bottle of creme de cassis, a cocktail shaker, a glass filled with aviation cocktail, and a lemon twist garnish on a bar counter

In this section, you’ll find detailed answers to common queries about the creme de Cassis Aviation cocktail, from its preparation to ingredient substitutions and variations.

How do you make an Aviation cocktail with crème de cassis?

To create an Aviation cocktail with crème de cassis, mix Hendricks Gin, crème de cassis liqueur, Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lime juice, rosemary simple syrup, and lavender bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a glass.

What are some variations of the Aviation cocktail that include crème de cassis?

Variations of the Aviation cocktail with crème de cassis may include adding or substituting various ingredients. These can be bourbon or elderflower liqueur, adjusting the lime juice ratios, or using different garnishes like rosemary sprigs.

Can vodka be used as a substitute in an Aviation cocktail recipe that calls for crème de cassis?

While vodka can be used as a base spirit in many cocktails, it’s not a traditional substitute in an Aviation cocktail. The recipe’s balance and flavor profile are designed around gin and its botanicals. Vodka would create a considerably different drink.

What are the necessary ingredients for crafting an Aviation cocktail with crème de cassis?

The necessary ingredients for this cocktail variation are gin, crème de cassis liqueur, Elderflower Liqueur, lime juice, rosemary simple syrup, and lavender bitters. Ice is also essential for chilling the cocktail.

Which version of the Aviation cocktail with crème de cassis is considered the best?

Taste is subjective, but a popular rendition of the Aviation cocktail with crème de cassis includes the use of premium gin and fresh, high-quality ingredients. This maintains a balance between sweet, tart, and herbal flavors.

How does crème de cassis differ from Chambord in cocktail recipes?

Crème de cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur with a deep berry flavor. Meanwhile, Chambord is crafted from raspberries and blackberries with hints of vanilla and herb.

In cocktails, crème de cassis provides a sharper, more singular berry note. On the other hand, Chambord offers a more complex, multi-berry essence.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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