What Cheese Pairs Best with an Aviation Cocktail?

Quick take: pair an Aviation cocktail with a ripe Coulommiers cheese

Just which cheese will work with the little floral touch in the Aviation cocktail?

In our cheese + cocktail pairing project, I combine my cocktail know-how with the encyclopedic cheese knowledge of Jennifer Greco of Chez Loulou for a series of classic cocktail and cheese pairings.

It’s springtime in paris and they say April showers bring May flowers, so we’re bringing a floral touch to our cocktail of the month with the Aviation.

May Pairing: Aviation Cocktail with a ripe Coulommiers

Make sure your Coulommiers is nice and ripe when pairing with the Aviation

Notes, discoveries and tips worth sharing:

While some Aviation cocktails leave out the crème de violette, we wanted that floral touch (and I prefer the cocktail with it) so we left it in.

-Some recipes call for adding either chilled water or using wet ice.  I do neither.

-I normally go for G’Vine Floraison gin for an Aviation. But we went with Beefeater in this version because [full disclosure!] I forgot we were testing Aviations this day and didn’t get G’Vine into the house bar and just used what I had on hand. Beefeater is still a good choice, and probably easier to find globally.

-We chose to pair this with the ripe Coulommiers because it was a very good – but also very interesting – pairing that left a long finish with a pleasant gamey/meaty flavor while also bringing out the cherry flavor in the maraschino liqueur. However, the Crottin de Chevre and 18 month Comté are both excellent choices with this drink as well (and possibly easier to source more consistently).

-Other cheeses that could work with it: Chevriou, which for me brought out the floral in the cocktail, but for Jennifer brought out the acidity (even with good tasting friends, palates can differ!) And, Bouchon de chèvre, which brings out the floral at the end and are just super cute.

-The Ossau-Iraty was neither terrible nor ideal with it, which surprised us a little given the cherry liqueur aspect and how nicely cherry and this cheese play together. [Note: in an earlier post i mentioned bringing the luxardo cocktail cherries out with this cheese. I recently did just that at a dinner party and it was a big hit!]

-Cheeses that don’t work with this cocktail include Brillat-Savarin (which left an alcohol afterburn and made the cheese disappear), French Emmental (though it did lengthen the cheese) and Saint-Marcellin (which was possibly the worst pairing).

-For the cherry garnish, I used Fabbri Amarena cherries, thinking they would be a bit brighter (more sweet/sour punch) in the cocktails. However, they did have a little sugar crystallized on them as opposed to the Luxardo (both had been purchased, opened and put in fridge at same time) This may have affected the cocktail (and is something to keep an eye on).

-FWIW, everytime you see a photo of the Aviation online with recipes or articles, it’s always very deep purple.  When made with a good product, in good proportions, it’s never going to be that color. If it is, you will be gagging on flowers. If you want that color with a well balanced cocktail, you could use food colouring – though I’d just stick with the cocktail as is.

Our Aviation cocktail ingredients

Aviation Cocktail with crème de violette

60 ml Beefeater gin
15 ml maraschino liqueur
7 ml crème de violette
22 ml freshly squeeze lemon juice (preferably strained before measured to remove the pulp)

Shake all ingredients with ice
Pour into chilled martini glass and garnish with a quality cocktail cheery.

Another beautiful (and tasty!) cheese board put together by Chez Loulou

If you’re here, I already know you like cocktails. But, if you want to learn more about these or other cheeses, I recommend some time on Jennifer’s blog and Instagram or signing up for one of her cheese workshops with Paris by Mouth.

Up next month: What Cheese to Pair with a Gin & Tonic cocktail


About Forest Collins 356 Articles
Cocktail Expert Forest Collins is the creator of 52martinis, an online guide to the best cocktail bars in Paris and other small batch spirits news from France. We've also recently launched an app so you can keep all that bar info in your pocket!