The Story Behind The Aviation recipe

From The Boys' and Girls' Little Book of Alcohol, an eBook available for kindle, nook, and iBooks. Go ahead and buy it, cheapskates!

Heads in the Clouds

            “So, mutatis mutandis, the LGBT community…” Ted was lecturing about marriage equality from his podium on our living room couch.
            What?” I blurted. Cocktail “hour” was pushing 90 minutes. I should have served the lamb stew and couscous already, but I couldn’t get out of the chair.
            “The gay community must shift its praxis from the dystopian to the…”
            “No, before that. You said ‘mucous mucandies.’ What the hell does that mean?”
            “You have a Ph.D. and you don’t know what mutatis mutandis means?” Ted was appalled.
            “Fuck you,” I explained.
            We’ve been doing this for years. We’re all academics or ex-academics. Dan has three degrees—B.A., MBA, and Ph.D., all from Harvard.  I have a Ph.D. from Columbia; Ted has one from Princeton and teaches at NYU; his partner, Eric, has an M.F.A. from Columbia and taught at Wellesley but now writes screenplays that actually get made into movies. You may have caught the farcical Brainiacs on cable; Eric wrote it. This dinner party demonstrated where he got his material.
            We were flying on Aviations. I was in a vast liquor emporium on the Upper East Side last week (I rarely go up there, since I’m deathly allergic to cashmere sweaters and simple strands of pearls) and saw Crème de Violette on the shelf with a little printed recipe for the Aviation. Maraschino, was nearby. I bought both.
            By Maraschino, I don’t mean the syrup in which innocent cherries are drowned in artificially flavored, carcinogenically colored sugar water so children can have their first drug rushes. I mean the clear cherry liqueur, which Italians make from Marasca cherries and their crushed pits. Et la Crème de Violette? Yes, it’s really made from violets and thus wins the title of The Gayest Liqueur Ever, there being no Crème de Pansy.
            I played around with the recipes I found online at the marvelous blog, where I learned that the drink has the reputation of being a 1930s cocktail, but it actually dates from 1916, when only a few people had ever seen an airplane, let alone flown in one. In those days, flying into the sky in a technological wonder seemed miraculous. The Aviation celebrates that magic. It has by far the loveliest color of any cocktail I’ve ever seen—watercolor-pale lavender. And it’s extraordinarily luscious. Now that air travel is like taking the bus, except that the bus is on time, the airplanes’ early thrill is long gone. Unless, of course, you make yourself and your smarty-pants friends Aviations, in which case you’ll all quickly be even higher than your IQs.