This drink was likely created after the wright brothers famous first flight however, there is little to no historical data published about this drink. Many believe it originally contained maraschino liqueur and creme de violette, but there is absolutely no evidence supporting this. Here is an early printing of this drink:
Home made beverages: the manufacture of non-alcoholic and … – Page 217 by Albert Allis Hopkins in 1919
“Aviation 1. — 2 pt.of old Holland gin add 1 gill of maraschino bitters, Lemon, yellow peel and juice of 1;”
The Avaition Cocktail vanished during prohibition for obvious reasons, then appeared in very few cocktail books afterwards. It wasn’t until recently this drink was reintroduced into modern drinking culture. Many believe it was author of Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten spirits who first recently wrote about this drink, this is not true.
This drink began to regain popularity during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s as seen in these publications:
I’ll Drink to That! by Hugh Quetton – 1992
“Salute the damp pioneer with an Aviation: Shake with ice 1 oz. gin, 1 oz. lemon juice and 2 dashes Maraschino. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.”
Complete world bartender guide – Page 438 by Bob Sennett in 1993
“Aviation Cocktail – Gin, Lemon Juice and Marashino Bitters, shake well with cracked ice.”
The confusion of this drinks contents is not clear at all, Gin, marashino liqueur, and lemon juice is printed time and time again during this era as a “Gin Punch” and it is very strange that someone would confuse the two given the Gin Punch’s popularity at the time. Possibly the gin punch was used as a guideline to create the Aviation cocktail, but this is speculative.
This drink dates between 1913 – 1917 and contained at least as of then:
Shake with cracked ice:
Fresh Lemon Juice
Simple Syrup (Modern)
Strain ingredients into a chilled cocktail glass.