Tag Archives: Aviation American Gin
The debate continues as to whether The Corpse Reviver No. 2 is the ultimate hair of the dog concoction, but there is little disagreement on the fact that the cocktail is sensational. First served at the Ritz in Paris back in the 1920s, this cocktail will awake your senses. I have always enjoyed Aviation American Gin with Lillet Blanc, but with some Cointreau, lemon, and absinthe in the mix, the combination is elevated to a whole new level.
Harry Craddock’s book, The Savoy Cocktail Book, was published in 1930 and included a recipe for The Corpse Reviver No. 2. About the cocktail, he wrote, “To be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed.” We recommend one for any occasion; although what better day to imbibe a drink strong enough to wake the dead than Easter Sunday?
-Christina Shapalis, Aviation Team Member
Photography by Danguole Lekaviciute
My poor father. The only brother to his three wild sisters goes off to get married, and is blessed with three equally wild daughters. To help him cope with the heavy amount of estrogen in his life, my sisters and I would watch football with him on Sundays and pretend we understood why he was screaming at the television. I can’t say I am a diehard fan, but at the age of 29, I now understand and thoroughly enjoy the game. In conjunction with my job at House Spirits Distillery and the fact that my roommates and I love any excuse to host a party, I decided I needed to come up with the perfect rivalry Super Bowl cocktails to serve on game day.
Super Bowl 50 (those in charge thought Super Bowl L would be too confusing to their fan base) will take place in San Francisco on February 7th. The Denver Broncos will take on the Carolina Panthers, in what hopes to be a colorful and exciting game. Regardless of what happens on the field, my house will be full of bright, tasty and wonderfully themed cocktails. Planning a viewing party? Consider serving these delicious drinks for your guests.
The Aviation Crush, an ode to the Broncos’ defense called ‘Orange Crush’
- 1 1/2 oz Aviation American Gin
- 1/2 oz Aperol
- 1 oz Freshly pressed orange juice
- 3/4 oz Freshly pressed lemon juice
- 3/4 oz Simple syrup
- Large orange peel, for garnish
Prepare a horse’s neck garnish (follow along with this video for garnish instructions) and place into a highball glass, then fill glass with ice. In a pint glass, add spirits & mixers, through simple syrup. Add ice and shake for 6-10 seconds. Fine-strain into the prepared highball glass and top with soda.
The Black Licorice Panther
- 1 oz Aviation American Gin
- 1 oz Krogstad Festlig Aquavit
- 3/4 oz Blue Curacao
- 3/4 oz Freshly pressed lemon juice
- 3/4 oz Simple syrup
- Cat-shaped black licorice candy, for garnish
In a pint glass, add spirits & mixers through simple syrup. Add ice and shake for 6-10 seconds. Fine strain into an ice-filled highball glass and top with soda. Garnish with a black licorice cat, such as these from World Market.
These cocktails will get even your anti-football friends into the game and to top it off, they are as tasty as they are perfectly color-coordinated. May the best team (cocktail) win!
-Christina Shapalis, Aviation Team Member
photography by Danguole Lekaviciute
As the seasons change, we find our culinary and cocktail choices changing. We watch our grocery list selections transform from carefree barbecue summer fare into slow-cooker comforts. Our cravings for those sparkly, effervescent libations on the rocks begin to wane, and in their place, the warming sensations of all things mulled and spiced show up to keep our hands warm and relax us into the folds of our overstuffed couches.
The weather takes a different and unexpected course, beating maliciously outside the door with no sign of a single ray of sunshine. For weeks on end. Sometimes you need summery edible and drinkable pick-me-ups to stave off those winter blues. Don’t cry yourself a river of chamomile tea, because here’s a drink concoction that’s sure to perk you up when you’re knee-deep in your winter gloominess.
Imagine a cocktail combining the bright sunshine flavors of grapefruit’s citrusy kiss, the sweet snap of English cucumber, peppery hints of Italian parsley and an intense, exotic, sweet-tart blend of tropical island fruits. This cocktail is sure to swipe a ribbon of sunny brightness across even the darkest of a cold, dead winter sky. You’ll be sipping and basking in thoughts of summers past while sketching your spring garden seeding schematic, completely forgetting about the nasty weather bleating outside.
Introducing the Tropic Harvest Cocktail! The base spirit of this refreshing pick-me-up is the award-winning Aviation American Gin. Hang a hammock in the living room and tempt yourself with this heavenly concoction. Winter’s melancholy has met its match with the Tropic Harvest cocktail! You can opt to make this as an individual cocktail, or put together a make-your-own Tropic Harvest cocktail bar. Simply set up a tray with sliced cucumber, your favorite tropical fruit, snips of parsley. Add a bottle each of club soda and simple syrup, a bucket of ice, and encourage your guests to put together their own spin on this refreshing beverage. Alternatively, you can put your blender to work to create thick, frosty versions — tiny umbrellas optional, but strongly encouraged!
TROPIC HARVEST COCKTAIL:
In a cocktail shaker, muddle:
- 3 thin English cucumber slices
- 3 snips of fresh organic Italian parsley (fresh basil is awesome too!)
- Selection of your favorite exotic fruit. As close to ripe as possible. We chose 2 slices each of kiwi, mango, and starfruit.
Add to your cocktail shaker:
- A handful of ice cubes
- 2 ounces Aviation American Gin
- 1 ounce simple syrup (optional – if the fruit is super ripe and sweet, you can omit this)
Cover and shake until the drink is thoroughly chilled, pour into a highball glass, fill the glass with soda water, top with 5 drops of grapefruit bitters, and stir. Garnish with starfruit and/or cucumber slice.
-Kelly Gajer, Aviation Team Member
- Start with distilled water (this makes the ice less cloudy). If you don’t have distilled water, simply boil it and let it cool down. Fill an ice tray halfway and freeze.
- Next take a small rosebud (you only need a few petals so no need to pick the biggest rose in your garden) and put one petal on each ice cube, cover with a teaspoon of water and freeze again.
- Lastly fill the tray all the way to the top and freeze for the third time.
Love the CBS show The Big Bang Theory? We do too and now, we love it even more. Check out the picture above to catch a glimpse of the Aviation bottle on it’s first TV appearance.
We love making great drinks with our Aviation American Gin but we love seeing what other people do with it even more. Below we’re rounded up some of our favorite bloggers that have experimented with our gin. We think they’ve done a pretty good job, if we do say so ourselves.
Do you have a favorite Aviation American Gin drink you want to share with us? We’d love to try it.
My husband is a big fan of Gin and Tonics, so this year I have put together a totally unique and cool gin lovers gift. This “do-it-yourself” G&T kit will be in his stocking in just a few days. First and foremost, a well-balanced foundation is essential and that is Aviation American Gin. Next is Jack Ruby Cocktail Co’s Small Batch Tonic. This tonic syrup adds brightness and refreshment as well as the perfect touch of bitterness to any cocktail but makes an exceptional Gin and Tonic. And for a little tongue-in-cheek fun, I will also include these great ice cube molds…Archie McPhee’s Gin and Titonic Ice Cube Tray. I may also throw in some cocktail glasses and limes, it will just depend on how much I can fit in his stocking!
– Amy Yukas, Director of Marketing
Simple syrup is an essential staple for any home bartender, bar or cocktail enthusiast. It is used in cocktails as a sweetener to balance out the sour and bitter flavors. Sugar doesn’t dissolve well on it’s own and can make your cocktail feel granulated. For a great recipe try Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s simple syrup. Pour the homemade simple syrup in an old bottle. Put some tape with a handwritten label on it and date it to ensure it is tossed out when it expires. Simple syrup will last about a month in the fridge. To keep your simple syrup tasting great for longer, add a splash of Volstead Vodka after the syrup has cooled. Keeping great Simple Syrup on hand will allow you to make great cocktails easier whenever you want.
A veritable cocktail revolution is underway, and it’s now a truly national phenomenon. Last year, cocktails became the #1 item on restaurant drinks menus, dethroning the margarita. Thirsty Millennials are leading the way, with 45% ordering a cocktail within the past month (twice the rate of the rest of the adult population).
What is equally amazing is where this is happening. Not long ago, delicious craft cocktails were only available at a handful leading bars and restaurants. Places like PDT and Clover Club (New York), or The Varnish (Los Angeles), elevated the cocktail to an art form. Today, an amazing cocktail is closer than ever. The nation’s leading restaurant groups have added craft cocktails, and craft spirits, to their menus. Landry’s is an excellent example – their McCormick & Schmick’s restaurants added Aviation American Gin to the menu at every U.S. location earlier this year, and they are now in the process of adding an Aviation-based “Hemingway” to the menu of their C.A. Muer restaurants.
There has never been a better time to enjoy an exquisitely crafted cocktail, and we salute both the pioneers and the restaurant groups who are democratizing the craft cocktail.
THE FLYING HEMINGWAY
- 2 oz Aviation Gin
- 1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur
- 3/4 oz Freshly pressed lime juice
- 1/2 oz Freshly pressed grapefruit juice
- 1/4 oz Simple syrup
- In a pint glass, add spirits & mixers
- Fill with ice
- Shake vigorously
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
- Garnish with a wide grapefruit disc & cherry on pick
Our CEO, Thomas Mooney, was recently on the Harvard Business Review radio show talking about the craft spirits industry and Avaition American Gin. You can listen to the show here, or read the transcript below.
SARAH GREEN: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review. I’m Sarah Green. I’m talking today with Thomas Mooney, co-owner and CEO of House Spirits Distillery, one of America’s leading craft distillers. Tom, thank you so much for joining us today.
THOMAS MOONEY: Thank you for having me.
SARAH GREEN: I’d like to just start with, if people aren’t familiar with house spirits, what’s the 30 second background on the company and where you are right now?
THOMAS MOONEY: Absolutely. We’re a Portland, Oregon-based distillery. We’re one of the pioneers of what has become America’s craft distilling resurgence, and really best known for Aviation American Gin, which is our flagship brand and now distributed nationally.
SARAH GREEN: So it’s interesting to me that you are really part of and in fact in the vanguard of this whole craft distilling, craft brewing, craft everything movement. It’s really part of the zeitgeist. One of my questions just to start with is, if trends change are you worried at all that you’re a too much part of the zeitgeist. What happens if tomorrow people aren’t as into that kind of thing?
THOMAS MOONEY: We don’t really worry about that at all. Cocktails are something that has always been there. They’re a part of this country’s cultural heritage and something that now has been exported around the world. What really has happened in the last decade is we’ve rediscovered something that was always there. So it’s not a gimmick.
It’s not an appletini. This is really part of who we are. And it had been lost and has now fortunately been rediscovered and has really gone out to the mainstream. This is no longer about Drink or PDT or Milk and Honey, some of my favorite bars in the world. But this is about the menus of Darden restaurants and Landry’s and Brinkers.
And it has really become a part of how we enjoy going out.
SARAH GREEN: So that raises an interesting question for me, which is, as a kind of a cocktail snob myself, one of the things I enjoy is feeling like I found something that no one else has found. When I find a new gin or I find a new whiskey, I kind of like showing it off to all my friends and having them be amazed that I found something exclusive. I know that you guys have some pretty ambitious plans for growth.
How do you balance people’s desire to feel special and exclusive with your desire to frankly grow your company?
THOMAS MOONEY: There is something magical about discovering something, but we’re in no danger of becoming commonplace. Even as one of the leaders in the craft distilling movement, our goal this year is to be somewhere around 30,000 cases in volume. That’s in an industry that does around 200 million cases.
So we’re small. And if we keep growing like crazy, we’re still small. And we’re still going to be a discovery. And we’re still going to be something special that even you loving cocktails would probably enjoy every day.
SARAH GREEN: So I think there’s also an interesting question there about the authenticity factor, because, for instance, the look of Aviation Gin is beautiful. It’s a really beautiful bottle, and it has this kind of 1930s almost art deco kind of feel to it. How do you balance that desire for hearkening back to kind of a prohibition era look with the desire to not really veer into camp?
It’s not a costume. It’s not a bartender with a mustache and suspenders. So how do you balance that and still feel authentic to people?
THOMAS MOONEY: What we’ve always aspired to be is relevant. And I agree, relevance isn’t a period piece and a handlebar mustache. The reason we got into this business and created Aviation is that we felt there was no such thing as the definitive American cocktail gin, which was somewhat ironic, since cocktails have been such a big part of our history. But the history of gin and the history of cocktails intersected, but didn’t really develop together.
So I think our authenticity and our relevance begins with the product itself, which we designed to be very different from London dry gins, very different from what was available in the market and very much what people wanted based on our habits. And that isn’t going to change.
SARAH GREEN: So I’m glad you mentioned that aspect of it, because I wanted to get into innovation and product innovation, because I think that one of the interesting things here is that you’re this flagship brand of gin. Gin is an old product. At the same time, you’re trying to do something new with it. But it’s interesting, because you don’t want to be so traditional that it’s your grandfather’s gin.
At the same time, you don’t want to do Bud Lite Lime-A-Rita here. So how did you think about that, and how did you try to develop something that felt like it was rooted in history but also was something new?
THOMAS MOONEY: Aviation was the first partnership between a bartender and a distiller in American history, literally. And so because of that, it is what it is. It was an attempt to fill a need that was there and to solve a problem that was there.
SARAH GREEN: What was the problem?
THOMAS MOONEY: The problem is that what most people think of as gin, which is the London dry style of gin, has a history that has a lot more to do with the British empire and needing to drink quinine because of malaria and wanting to chase that down with something that at least made that experience a little better. We don’t have a lot of malaria problems in Portland, Oregon. So we didn’t feel that was necessary.
As the American palate evolved and particularly as cocktails developed, people started drinking different things. 80% of the cocktails that people order are fruit-based. Most of those are citrus-based. There was just a basic food reality that it a juniper forward gin doesn’t mix very nicely with citrus.
So the world had lots of great gins, many of which I love. But the world really didn’t have the definitive cocktail gin in the sense that it would be not just very mixable with citrus flavors, but actually work much better and enhance those fruit flavors. And that’s what we wanted to do.
We went through 35 different batches. We thought the answer might be to use less juniper. We were wrong. The answer was actually to use more of the other botanicals and then creating a more complex flavor that let all of these different flavors shine through. We ended up creating something very balanced that mixes really nicely, and again, that is ideal for the way we like to enjoy cocktails.
SARAH GREEN: Interesting. So I think there’s maybe traditional un-HBR approach to innovation would be to do something like assume that you know you needed to use less juniper and then just go with that. But it sounds like you actually did a fair amount of prototyping and I hope a fair amount of taste testing.
THOMAS MOONEY: Yes. In fact, we called our gin Aviation after the aviation cocktail, that is a classic cocktail that is steeped in both New York and London cocktail history. You may have enjoyed one at some point. And we did so because the aviation is an extraordinarily complex cocktail in terms of all the flavors that are in it– creme de violette, maraschino liqueur, citrus, gin.
And so we figured if our goal is to develop the most mixable gin that works the best with fruit flavors, that is the torture test. If it works in that cocktail, then it works in any fruit-based application. That was about the extent of the board room-style thinking. The rest was going down to the floor and trying different batches.
And yes, all those 35 batches we came back and tasted them in an aviation and in other staple cocktails until we decided was what we felt that right botanical build would be and what the right proof for it would be, and there was born Aviation Gin. And the gin didn’t have a name. We ended up giving it that name because that cocktail was so much our inspiration throughout the development process.
SARAH GREEN: So I ask a question about the competitive landscape, because I think earlier this week in Slate I was reading that there’s been over 200 new craft distilleries in recent years, I think, springing up all over the United States. At the same time, a lot of the really big players, the people behind Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, some of these other really big companies, are starting to produce their own imitation craft sub-brands.
And so if you are just walking into a liquor store, you might not know that the bottle you’re looking at is actually made by a mega company that’s owned in Europe or something. So when you look at that kind of landscape as one of the early forerunners of the movement, how do you see yourself and the company being able to maintain a distinctiveness as the field gets more crowded?
THOMAS MOONEY: There were 24 distilleries in the US the year before we started operating. There were more than 50 new ones that opened up last year. So there’s no doubt that the number has grown and that the trend is accelerating. I would answer in two ways.
One is, depending on what number you look at, there are probably around 300 craft distilleries today. Is that a lot? Well, there were 5,000 distilleries in the US at the end of the 19th century. So it took Prohibition to make that go away, and maybe we’re just starting to work our way back to historically normal numbers. There are over 2,300 craft breweries.
There are over 7,200 small wineries. So 300 is not a big number. And there are breweries and wineries that have done perfectly well in an environment where they have thousands of peers in that craft community. So we don’t worry about that.
And in the end, the distinctiveness for us is around what we make and what those brands stand for and what they mean for the people who enjoy them. And so again, going back to Aviation as an example, it is a very purposeful brand. It does something that other gins don’t do. And it does it really well.
And we were fortunate to get a 97 point rating from Wine Enthusiast. They rated it the best gin in the world, essentially. And so that’s distinctiveness. If anything, far from being concerned about the rise of this craft movement and it getting crowded, I think it helps us all.
In beer, craft is now about 10% of industry revenue. In spirits, it’s still far less than 1%. So I think the more of us there are doing good things, helping each other, I think the better for everybody. It will be the proverbial rising tide that lifts all of us. And we’re going to give consumers something they love.
SARAH GREEN: So do you have plans to expand beyond the United States?
THOMAS MOONEY: We do and we have. We do 20% of our business now in Europe, mostly in Spain, which is actually one of the three largest gin markets in the world for fascinating reasons.
SARAH GREEN: Explain the reasons. I’m just really surprised.
THOMAS MOONEY: Spain is in love with gin and tonics. It’s not even gin specifically. It’s gin and tonics. And so just about any self-respecting restaurant and bar in Spain will have a menu of dozens and dozens of gin and tonics.
And they have really turned pairing specific gins to specific tonics with the right what they call the perfect serve, the right combination of other garnishments. They’ve really embraced it.
SARAH GREEN: That’s really interesting. I have to get over to Spain.
THOMAS MOONEY: So there are many good reason to go to Spain.
SARAH GREEN: To wrap up, where do you hope to take the company next? What’s ahead for you guys?
THOMAS MOONEY: We see tremendous upside. And again, the cocktail culture that is fueling a lot of the growth in gin and a lot of our success isn’t going anywhere. Actually, as of last year, I read in the Mintel report last week, cocktails became the number one word on restaurant drinks menus for the first time. They displaced margaritas. And that is now we just the use of the term and therefore the importance of cocktails in menus just across the hospitality industry has grown by about 55% in the last three years.
And if you want to know what the future brings, look at what younger people are doing today. And it turns out millennials are really driving that. 48% of millenials have had a cocktail in the last month. That’s about twice the rate for the population at large. And they go out more.
And so that’s going to continue, and that will continue to fuel both our Aviation American gin growth and the growth of our other brands. And I think for us it’s really just about not forgetting our roots. We need to always be who we have been in terms of our values. And we need to make sure that as we make more small batches of Aviation– and trust me, they’re small, 92 cases a batch– that every one is as good as the best one we’ve ever made, and consistent over time. And that really will get us from here to there.
So we’re very excited about the future. And we believe that we can grow to become the largest craft distillery in the country.
SARAH GREEN: And that’s not an oxymoron.
THOMAS MOONEY: No, just ask Jim Cooke. Jim actually really inspired me to get into this business. He and I spoke a few years ago, and he told me about the landscape when he was creating Boston Beer and what he learned and then what worked for him. And he actually pointed me to craft spirits as a place where he saw the possibility for the same kind of growth overall, but also the opportunity for a very well-run company that makes great products and is honest to have the kind of success that he and others have had.
So yeah, I wouldn’t mind being the Jim of craft spirits.
SARAH GREEN: So Tom, it sounds like you see a lot of headroom for growth here.
THOMAS MOONEY: Absolutely. The spirits industry as a whole is growing. year on year. But within gin in particular, there’s a tremendous opportunity. Gin was one by far the largest clear spirits in the spirits industry. And over the last decades, it lost that position to vodka, to the extent that today only 13% of adult consumers drink gin at all, and only 5% will name gin as their preferred spirit.
So there’s a ton of upside. And when you look at the gin category as it exists, the growth is more than 100% coming from the brands that offer these new expressions of gin that are more balanced, that are more approachable brands like Aviation. So we’re exactly in the right place in a category that is working its way back to its rightful place.
SARAH GREEN: Tom, thanks again so much for joining us today.
THOMAS MOONEY: Thank you.
SARAH GREEN: That was Tom Mooney, the co-owner and CEO of House Spirits Distillery. For more, visit hbr.org.