New York City (1911)

Here’s a drink that almost went extinct because of Prohibition – in its original form, anyway. Early 20th-century trendsetter Hugo Ensslin‘s Aviation owes its dry, sweet, tart, and floral balance to a key ingredient: crème de violette – a liqueur made by steeping violet flowers in neutral grain spirit with sugar to extract their perfume and color. In the bottle, it’s a deep violet; Mixed in a drink, it adds a pale sky-blue tinge (hence the name “Aviation,” no doubt). When Prohibition came along, many companies stopped importing their products to the US or just went out of business altogether. Such was the case with the original supplier of crème de violette – and that’s why recipes for the Aviation printed after 1920 simply omit this crucial accent. Without the violette, this cocktail just tastes like a Pixy Stix. Not nearly as interesting (or as eye-catching) as it should be. Thankfully, as the craft cocktail movement picked up steam, we started to see a revival of previously-lost ingredients, including crème de violette, reintroduced in 2007 by Rothman & Winter.

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger, Cocktail pick, Hawthorne strainer (if using Boston shaker)
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass
Spirits: London Dry gin (recommended: Beefeater, Tanqueray)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Maraschino liqueur (recommended: Luxardo), Crème de violette (recommended: Rothman & Winter)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lemon juice, Maraschino cherry

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:

1 1/2 oz London Dry gin
3/4
oz lemon juice
1/2
oz maraschino liqueur
1/4
oz crème de violette

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry pierced on a cocktail pick.

Alembic, San Francisco (2008)

Daniel Hyatt at San Francisco’s Alembic came up with this one, a fine example of the West Coast “farm-fresh” style of craft cocktails – taking a well-loved classic (the Southside) and adding an element from the garden that elevates and enlivens the drink. In this case, fresh celery juice adds a neon punch of color and a subtle earthy flavor that unites the gin, lime, and mint just beautifully.

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger, Box grater or vegetable juicer, Fine mesh strainer
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass
Spirits: London Dry gin (recommended: Beefeater, Tanqueray)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Simple syrup
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Celery juice, Lime juice, Fresh spearmint

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer at least ten minutes.
Using the fine side of a box grater, grate a celery stalk over a bowl to produce juice. Strain juice to remove pulp.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:

1 1/2 oz London Dry gin
3/4
oz celery juice
1/2
oz lime juice
1/2
oz simple syrup
3 to 4 mint leaves

Shake gently to blend and chill, then double-strain into the chilled glass through a fine mesh strainer. Garnish with a large mint leaf that’s been lightly clapped between your hands to release its aromatic oils.

New York City, 1880s

They say this drink is named for three beautiful jewels (“bijous” in French): diamond (gin), ruby (vermouth), and emerald (Chartreuse). Of course, “Bijou” was also a popular name for Broadway theatres, and this makes more sense to me: if The Last Word is the refined-but-eccentric type who comes in late for the show wearing tennis whites, the Bijou is his weird cousin who lives in the weed-choked field behind the theatre. Many contemporary versions of this recipe tame down the vermouth and Chartreuse, but the first-documented instance (in Harry Johnson’s 1882 “Bartender’s Manual”) specified equal parts, like a proto-Negroni. Yes, a whole ounce of 110-proof, ass-kicking green Charteuse: the intensely herbal liqueur made by French Carthusian monks since the mid-18th century. Legend says it contains 130 different botanicals and each half of the secret recipe is known by only two monks at a time, who’ve taken a vow of silence. And not just about the liqueur. So goes the legend, anyway. A great drink is made even better by a great story – and drinks tend to lead to stories, you know.

Odds are, because of the date, this would’ve originally been made with Old Tom gin. But if you don’t mind an extra herbal kick, try it with a London Dry gin. Either style works great here.

THE KIT

Hardware: Mixing glass, Jigger, Barspoon
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass
Spirits: Old Tom gin (recommended: Hayman’s) or London Dry gin (recommended: Beefeater, Tanqueray)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Italian vermouth (recommended: Carpano Antica, Noilly Prat), green Chartreuse
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Orange bitters (recommended: Regan’s Orange Bitters #6)

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a mixing glass about a third-full with ice cubes, add:

1 oz Old Tom gin or London Dry gin
1 oz Italian vermouth
1 oz green Chartreuse
1 
dash orange bitters 

Stir well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass. No garnish.