Tomorrow is August 19 and National Aviation Day, a holiday perfectly suited for celebration by cocktail.
National Aviation Day was established via presidential proclamation as a holiday in 1939 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR chose August 19 for a significant reason: it’s Orville Wright’s birthday (sorry, Wilbur).
Not only was Orville alive when the holiday was created, he lived nine more years after it was established.
It’s only fitting that anyone celebrating National Aviation Day—an American holiday—should do so with (a) a classic American cocktail, (b) a spirit brand inspired by that cocktail, and (c) an American spirit.
Tomorrow, whether you’re celebrating on your own, toasting friends and family via Zoom, Skype or FaceTime, selling to-go cocktails or cocktail kits, or serving up cocktails in person, the Aviation cocktail is the order of the day. Hugo Ensslin, a New York bartender, is credited with creating the Aviation in the early twentieth century.
There are a few ways to make the cocktail. The first follows the original recipe: gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette. The second method appears in the Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930, and omits the crème de violette. The third method replaces crème de violette with Creme Yvette. You’ll find the original recipe below, and you can visit Drizly to purchase Aviation Gin here, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur here, and Creme Yvette here.
This year, there’s more hype around National Aviation Day than usual. That’s because drinks behemoth Diageo announced their acquisition of Aviation American Gin yesterday.
An initial payment of $335 million gives Diageo ownership of Davos Brands. The portfolio includes not only Aviation American Gin but also Sombra Mezcal, Balcones, Astral Tequila, iichiko Shochu, and TYKU Sake. Dependent upon performance over the next 10 years, Diageo may pay (up to) an additional $275 million for a total acquisition cost of $610 million.
Aviation American Gin was created by Christian Krogstad and Ryan Magarian in 2006. The gin is crafted in Portland, Oregon, using juniper (of course), lavender, cardamom, coriander, Indian sarsaparilla, anise seed, and sweet and bitter orange peel.
The gin was sold to Davos Brands in 2016. However, the original distiller—House Spirits Distillery—continues to make the spirit. Two years after Aviation was sold to Davos Brands, actor and advertiser Ryan Reynolds acquired a stake in the brand. Reynolds’ agency, Maximum Effort Productions, has been creating and executing the gin’s ad campaigns.
If you happen to be flying on National Aviation Day, please be extra kind to the flight crew and your fellow passengers. It’s a risky endeavor right now and tensions are justifiably high.
- 1.5 oz. Aviation American Gin
- 0.5 oz. Maraschino liqueur
- 0.5 oz. Lemon juice
- 0.25 oz. Simple syrup
- 1 tsp. Crème de violette
- Brandied cherry to garnish
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and then strain into a coupe with Ice. Garnish with brandied cherry.
Recipe and image courtesy of Aviation American Gin.
Neither the author nor Hospitality Villains received compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Aviation American Gin, Davos Brands, Maximum Effort Productions, Diageo, or any other entity in exchange for this post.
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I’ve been studying and writing about the hospitality industry since 2006. Like so many people, I started my journey in this business by working as a host, server and bartender. I was introduced to nightlife in Chicago, learning the ins and outs of nightclubs and after-hours hot spots.
After moving to Las Vegas nearly 20 years ago, I both co-owned a valet company and helped promote the club it serviced. That led to me taking on the role of editor for a Las Vegas hospitality industry publication.
A few short years later, I continued along my journey of hospitality industry reporting. I went from contributing to a major industry outlet to taking on the role of editor and content curator.