Aviation Gin Blog
The Aviation Cocktail and Me
When it comes to widely approachable “delivery vehicles” used to get spirit tastefully into one’s piehole, few have had more challenges than our juniper -drenched friend gin. Just think about it, when it comes to vodka, you have an endless array of easy to drink options for all palate levels, from the beautiful nothingness of a vodka soda to the default shaken cocktail of the party set; the Cosmopolitan. Rum, well, you’ve got rum and cokes and mojitos…tequila, the margarita…whiskey, where the heck does one begin??? … But gin, gin can be a monster challenge.
So, I first jumped behind the stick in late 1996 and from the beginning it seemed pretty clear to me that there were only two things you did with this gin stuff, you either rocked out an ice cold glass of liquid juniper (the gin martini) or combined it with the alienating bittersweetness of the gnarly tonic waters flowing from the guns day. And needless to say, neither of these offerings were bringing new drinkers into the category. Thankfully, the early 21st Century brought an extraordinary awakening of passion and craftsmanship in the world of mixed drinks, and further helped to unearth long forgotten vintage drinks, many of them, with the sweet and sour balance points that many of today’s imbibers have been known to prefer.
Not the least of them, and certainly the most important one with regards to my journey, was none other than the Aviation Cocktail, a drink that obviously factored greatly into the creation of our gin. Now, my first experience with this drink was glossing over it in Paul Harrington’s canon Cocktails of the 21st Century, but the “Aviation” experience that changed my life, was my first sip of “2013’s most googled cocktail” at the Olive’s Bar at the Bellagio Hotel in 2003. I will never forget that “aha moment” when I realized that gin’s challenge wasn’t so much the gin itself, but the ways us bartenders were serving it. And I knew right then, that if universally delicious vintage drinks like the Aviation (a simple combination of gin, crème de violette, maraschino liqueur, and freshly pressed lemon juice) were re-introduced, the entire category might just come back to life. Which leads us to 2006, when my partners and I at House Spirits Distillery in Portland, OR had finally completed our recipe for a regionally inspired gin that was made to be uniquely balanced allowing all of our botanicals the opportunity to have their little liquid voices heard. And one of our inspirations for the gin, of course, was to get people to rethink their doubts about the opportunity to find each their own “life changing gin drinking experience,” an idea that would eventually lead us to name our gin after the cocktail that was already creating just such experiences for imbibers around the world.
-Ryan Magarian, Co-founder of Aviation American Gin
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