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Airstream Cocktails: The Aviation

Full-time RV life means choosing to travel with the things that are important to you, and what luxuries bring the most joy at the end of the day. As a former bartender who worked on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best and most experienced mixologists in the city, forming strong opinions about what I did and did not enjoy when it was my turn on the customers’ side of the bar.

Service industry workers show incredible generosity and professional courtesy to one another, sharing ideas and regional traditions from place to place. It was due to this openness that I was able to determine not only my favorite cocktails, but also how to alter them to suit my tastes while still retaining their original character. I developed a preference for the slightly unusual, the vintage classics and the cocktails with a good story attached to them. These kinds of cocktails, that need to be learned thoroughly in their classic and traditional forms before any sort of tweaking can be done, are the ones I look for when in a new city, or, in these days of COVID, on the blogs and social media of talented and gregarious mixologists.

And yes. I have a favorite. The Aviation.

Not only does the Aviation look gorgeous in the glass, with its pale blue, leaning-to-indigo color and bit of cloudiness from the citrus, it is a total flavorbomb on the taste buds (credit and thanks to chef Bob Blumer for the perfect word to describe this sensation). Some of the ingredients are a bit of a chore to find, but most larger wine and spirits stores carry them, and we found we could restock at the Total Wine on the edge of town. Here’s the recipe:

2 parts gin

1 part lemon juice

1/2 part Luxardo

1/2 part Creme de Violette

Place all ingredients with ice into a cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a martini glass (it’s made with gin, so that’s allowed).

Garnish with a brandied cherry. More than one, really. We use the BadaBing brand, or those from Woodford Reserve. We will be making our own this winter and I’ll hopefully have that recipe to share once we figure it out!

Now, you can substitute lime juice for lemon, and it does alter the flavor profile a bit in a lovely way which I enjoy very much. I had a bartender mistakenly serve me one made in this fashion and, once she discovered her error and informed me, continued to make them in this manner for me when I was at her bar. You can also make these with more floral gins, or those with strong botanical flavor profiles, but it may “over-flower” the rest of the flavors since the Creme de Violette is such a strong floral liqueur to begin with.

Do you have favorite cocktails out on the road? A bit of luxury you bring with you to cap off the end of a long and glorious day? Share yours in the comments and we’ll toast somewhere down the road. Cheers!

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