Distillery Archives - Aviation American Gin

Category Archives: Distillery

Stocking Stuffer Ideas

It is that time again, my friends. The time to buy stuff for people we know, some of whom we love, for a holiday that we are vaguely familiar with.

I kid, I kid!

It’s the holiday season and many of you are no doubt looking for grown-up stocking stuffers/tools for facilitating debauchery. And we have those in spades at our House Spirits PDX (Portland International Airport) location.

For that traveler in your family, grab a couple of The Carryon Cocktail Kits.

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In my most humble opinion, Gin and Tonics suit the holidays better than summer. They are the perfect complement for holiday dinners. Potato latkes, turkey, stuffing, and green bean casserole pack a heavy punch. Gin and tonic, on the other hand, is light on the tongue and the botanicals in Aviation Gin are a pretty fierce digestive opener (very important for the most dignified holiday tradition of stuffing one’s face). But to have a great Gin and Tonic, you need more than gin. Behold The Carryon Cocktail Kit Gin and Tonic. It’s a travel-sized cocktail that includes a mini jigger, cloth napkin, mini spoon, a recipe card, and a bottle of tonic. All you need to add is some Aviation Gin to complete it.

If you want to add a little flare to your G & T, check out the Gin and Titonic ice cubes. Yes, you heard that right: a little tongue-in-cheek reference to the story of the Titanic, which I will assume you all know.

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If you’re a bit unsure about my over-confident assertion that Gin and Tonics are the cocktail for the holiday season, try a Mile High Mule Carryon Cocktail Kit. To really put a cherry on someone’s holiday sundae, get them a proper Mule Mug for their cocktail. We are carrying a beautiful line of handmade copper mugs from This Is Folklore Company, a local artist here in Portland, Oregon. My favorite is the all-seeing eye, but there are many other magnificent designs to choose from.

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Be sure to stop by our PDX kiosk and pick up some gifts for your more adult friends and family! See you soon.

-Carlene Ostedgaard, Aviation Team Member


Juniper Berries

When gin is discussed, you can’t get too far into it without mentioning Juniper. But this tree comes in many varieties given it’s ancient origins and quite a few are poisonous. Consequently the species Juniperus communis is what we use in Aviation American Gin, and is the generally accepted juniper for all gin. It is THE defining characteristic of the spirit itself.

For centuries juniper has been used in medicine and many alchemical processes employed alcohol as solvent. So one can only assume that eventually juniper soaked in alcohol evolved into something beyond a medical necessity and other desirable ingredients were also added. Given that so many essential oils are contained in the cone (not an actual berry) that list of ingredients must have come readily.

Primarily containing sugars, but also pinene, that unmistakable pine taste, limonene for herbal citrus qualities, and myrcene which is found in hops and cannabis amongst others. Just those flavors alone suggest a huge range of plants that could accompany in this delicious tincture known as ‘Dutch courage’. And given it’s range of potential, it’s no wonder pre-prohibition America was demanding it in most cocktails.

Our method for creating Aviation American Gin takes care to assure all these flavors and aromas are translated to the final product. By steeping our botanicals in spirit prior to a second distillation the oils are extracted to a higher degree and strict cuts during the second run assure they’re used to their full potential. This, to me, is why Aviation is the premier gin for cocktails.

Aviation Cocktail

Aviation Cocktail

And the list of classic gin cocktails is almost universally adored among the cocktail dedicated: Negroni, Martinez, Gimlet, Aviation, or the Corpse Reviver #2. Another staple is for sure the most controversial – The Singapore Sling. All drink makers seem to have their own version of this beverage and over time it was bastardized into obscurity excepting it’s strange cousin seen at lounge bars and Chinese restaurants.

To fully understand the magnitude of gin’s diversity I think there’s no better potpourri.

Singapore Sling

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  • 1½ ounces Aviation American Gin
  • 1½ ounces Pineapple juice
  • ½ ounce Cherry Heering
  • ½ ounce Lime juice
  • ¼ ounce Cointreau
  • ¼ ounce Bénédictine
  • ¼ ounce Grenadine
  • Dash of Angostura bitters

Shake all liquid ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a pineapple leaf.

-Miles Munroe, Aviation Team Member



Herbaceous, woody, and classified within the mint family, we focus on Lavender for this installment of our Aviation American Gin deconstruction. Its popularity crosses many cultures and is used in the culinary world across the entire food spectrum from savory to sweet. Also, because of its direct relation to mint a bit of camphor lingers on its perception giving an excellent earthiness against the bitter lying beneath.

For most, the aroma and first sip of Aviation brings top notes of Lavender. We use the French variety (Lavandula stoechas) that is more assertive than English Lavender and gives that distinct flavor entry to your palate. But because Aviation is so well-balanced, playing on several notes throughout, the Lavender never shows too sharp or perfumed and then lays down the earthiness that brilliantly shines with citrus.

A cocktail I think is an excellent showcase for Lavender, and refreshing for these hot summer months is the Sparkling Lavender Spritz. The Lavender syrup that accompanies, is easy to make and has great uses besides a cocktail (Lavender syrup on vanilla ice cream for life).

Sparkling Lavender Spritz 3

Sparkling Lavender Spritz

Or, better yet, keep using it in drinks like a Lavender Collins:

  • 2 oz Aviation American Gin
  • 1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1-1/2 oz Lavender Syrup
  • 3 oz Club Soda (+/- to taste)

Stir gin, lemon juice, and syrup together in a Collins glass.
Add 2-3 ice cubes and top with Club Soda.
Garnish with lavender stalk and some petals, if you wish.

How about a Lavender Negroni:

  • 1 oz Aviation American Gin
  • 3/4 oz Campari
  • 3/4 oz Cinzano Bianco (to depart from traditional sweet vermouth)
  • 2 dashes Lavender Bitters

Garnish: lemon wheel, lavender sprig
Glass: rocks
Ice: cubes

Stir and strain on fresh ice, garnish with lemon wheel & lavender sprig.

-Miles Munroe, Aviation Team Member

Meet Ryan Magarian!

We spent some time getting to know Aviation American Gin’s co-founder, Ryan Magarian, and learned a lot about how he got started in the spirit business. Curious what his favorite spirit is? Read on!

Big Bar LA

1. Where did you grow up?
So, I grew up right here in the western suburbs of our little “Disneyland of Deliciousness” known as Portland, Oregon. Upon graduating from HS, I headed on down to Eugene for 4 ½ fun and formative years at the University of Oregon where my passion for booze would eventually lead me down the path I’m on today. I must say here, though, that my early passion with regards to alcohol was rather dark and oriented, sadly, around effect rather than experience. Mercifully, over the years, I had the fortune of falling under fantastic mentorship and into great gigs which deep reoriented my relationship with hooch. Today I enjoy it in moderation with great respect for their unique stories, processes, and flavor profiles, and frankly, champion it as a part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle (for certain individuals, of course.)

2. When did you first start to realize you had a passion for spirits and bartending?
That definitely happened during my first bartending gig, that as a Club Med Resort barman, which I’m sure folks who know me can totally picture! Early on, my passion, in all honesty, was more built on the fact that for the first time in my life, I had found something I was truly good at. Sad, I know. Thankfully, over the years though, that passion definitely shifted to a simple desire to creating (or attempt to create) what I like to call “life changing cocktail and spirit service” experiences…experiences that can only be conjured through a careful balance of having an authentic heart to serve, a rich and passionate understanding of story and process, and the knowledge, ability, and desire to execute precisely each and every time I stepped to the well.

3. Of all the spirits out there, what is your favorite?
Gin, of course…Seriously, I find gin to have a boatload of range and interest from the juniper-led classics to the modern takes that emphasize and bit more balance and creativity. And when it comes to both mixing and enjoying on it’s, gin is more often than not, the spirit that usually comes to my mind both personally and professionally.

4. How does Aviation American Gin represent the Northwest to you?
It represents the PNW to me for the fact that our gorgeous little part of the world is chock full of pioneers and artisans who often seek out a life here thanks to the wide creativity and perspectives it embraces. This environment, of course, had a profound impact on our ability to create a gin that at the time, was completely out of the ordinary. So much so, that I had to champion a unique designation to help us and others taking the road less traveled, find a space within the category to reside. Additionally, I believe the flavor and aroma of the gin itself, absolutely brings to mind the fresh, damp, spicy/savoryness one might expect of a gin from Portland, OR.



As we continue to run down the list of botanical dynamics of Aviation American Gin, today’s posting brings you the seed of cilantro. Better known as Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) and especially prized by us distillers, this large, round seed finds its way into our fantastic Gin because of the unique notes contributed by a secondary oil found within.

When tasting dried coriander there isn’t the slightest hint at the tangy, savory-yet-bright (and to some palates soapy, or even worse, fetid!) flavor and aroma associated with cilantro. This is because once the coriander is dried the essential oil yielding those initial perceptions evaporates and leaves other oils to be easily extracted. This gives way to woodsy notes, floral hints, and even some vivid citrus qualities. And why? Because coriander shares compounds in this oil also found within geraniums.

When tasting Aviation American Gin you experience an earthiness balanced with citrus, spice, and light floral sweetness. This makes for an incredibly tasty exhibit of flavors largely appreciated in a freshly-shaken cocktail. One that I think accentuates these refreshing qualities is the Corpse Reviver No. 2.

Appearing in Harry Craddock’s 1930 classic, Savoy Cocktail Book, this outstanding concoction brings together the elements offered from coriander by highlighting and even matching some attributes of the Gin. And our counterpart Coriander is also preferred by most producers of pastis and herbal liqueurs so the absinthe spritz ties in all components. Aviation American Gin brightens up this classic drink that never fails to cure what ails you. You’ve been revived.

-Miles Munroe, Distiller

Orange Peel

orange peel

After juniper, dried citrus fruit peel of some type may very well be the botanical most commonly used in the production of gin. Lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit, Buddha’s hand – you name it, and its peel will be found in the recipe of a gin somewhere. There’s a good reason for this: citrus peel contains myriad fragrant oils that stimulate our aroma and taste receptors, and contribute greatly to a cocktail’s appeal to boot.

In creating Aviation American Gin, we elected to use dried orange peel for its delicious citrus contribution. Actually, we use two types of orange peel – bitter and sweet – in our botanical democracy. As its name implies, bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) is an intensely bitter orange grown in warm regions throughout the world largely for its peel and oils, often used in orange flower water. To balance out this citrus bitterness, we also use the peel of sweet oranges (Citrus sinensis), like navel oranges that are familiar to everyone.

Within Aviation, dried orange peel stands out to me for its unmistakable orange-y aromas and flavors that provide a great balance to the savory, floral and spicy components of the gin. Additionally, many of my favorite cocktails that feature Aviation (such as a Tom Collins or a Southside) include a citrus juice that plays off of Aviation’s citrus character beautifully. Drinks with bitters (particularly orange bitters) also heighten Aviation’s orange notes in fun ways.

In short, using orange peel in our distillation makes citrus and Aviation American Gin go together like peas and carrots. Make up a batch of Aviation Greyhounds (gin and freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice, so delicious and so easy) for brunch some time, or riff with other juices or bitters – you almost can’t go wrong.

-Andrew Tice, Head Distiller

World Drinks Awards

AAG Bottles

The 2015 World Drinks Awards took place on March 19 in London. Aviation American Gin happened to take home a couple design awards, which was a wonderful delight to our Aviation Team. We received World’s Best Gin Design and World’s Best Design. Furthermore, our design agency, Sandstrom, won World’s Best Design Agency.

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We worked hard to create a unique and functional bottle and are beyond pleased to have the design recognized by the World Gin Awards, a part of the prestigious World Drinks Awards program. The World Gin Awards reward and promote the best in gin taste and design across the globe. To another great year with our beautiful bottle!


-The Aviation Team

Indian Sarsaparilla


Indian Sarsaparilla

Indian sarsaparilla (Hemidesmus indicus) is probably the most unusual of the botanicals that we use in each batch of Aviation American Gin. To my knowledge no other gin on the market contains this ingredient, but it is a key component of our flavor profile. I think of Indian sarsaparilla as providing the sweet vanilla, slightly earthy ‘bass note’ that balances the higher notes of juniper, floral, and citrus present in Aviation, bringing the whole spirit into a delicious harmony.

As the name implies, this botanical is native to India, which is where we source ours from through our good friends at Oregon Spice. We use the root of the plant, which is woody, light-brown, and smells of vanilla and light earthiness. Wikipedia tells us that it’s used to make syrup infusions for sherbets, which are then sold at refreshment shops in south India, which sounds awesomely exotic and delicious to me. Also, our neighbors down the street at Steven Smith Teamaker use Indian sarsaparilla in one of their hibiscus teas, which just goes to show what a tasty and versatile beverage component this spice is. Cheers to delicious flavors from the subcontinent!

– Andrew Tice, Head Distiller and Aviation Team Member



Elletaria Cardamom pods

Aviation American Gin has a very unique flavor profile, which has everything to do with the specific types of botanicals steeped in the spirit. My favorite botanical used in Aviation American Gin is the Elletaria Cardamom, or green cardamom. It trails behind saffron and vanilla as the third most expensive spice in the world. Cardamom is a part of the ginger family and therefore has a spicy, aromatic and unique taste. There really is nothing quite like it. Adding cardamom to the botanical make-up of Aviation American Gin helps bring out those earthy, forest flavors, as well as hints of citrus and ginger. We are dedicating January to cardamom so stay tuned for future posts involving wonderful recipes with cardamom simple syrup. On a side note, if you haven’t tried cardamom ice cream, I highly recommend doing so!


-Christina Shapalis, Aviation Team Member

Aviation’s Secret Ingredient


Okay, so we’re not very secretive, but if we were we might be mum about one of the ingredients in Aviation American Gin: Sarsaparilla. There are two reasons to keep it secret, first because it is such an unusual ingredient for gin and second because it is the botanical least likely to be identified upon tasting Aviation American Gin. Sarsaparilla is the main flavor of real Root Beer, so fans of that might be able to pick it out but most can’t.

The Sarsaparilla was the final addition to the botanical makeup of Aviation American Gin. We had chosen the other six ingredients first, and had achieved what we like to call a “Botanical Democracy” with the spirit firing on nearly all cylinders (great aroma, entry, flavor and finish), but it fell flat on mid-palate body and structure and we needed something oily or phenolic to fill that gap. The obvious choice would have been vanilla, but we wanted to be more innovative than that, so we cast about for another option, and I remembered the pipe tobacco my father smoked when I was a child, and the sweet fragrance of the sarsaparilla it contained. I’m really happy with our choice, and I hope you are too.

– Christian Krogstad, Founder

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