Libations: The ‘Aviation’ gives gin a new perspective |

Libations: The ‘Aviation’ gives gin a new perspective

The Aviation at Clark's Oyster Bar in downtown Aspen
Carolyn Sackariason

I’m not much of a gin drinker because I can’t get past the pine needle smell and taste of it.

While I was in Clark’s Oyster Bar during a recent happy hour, I was convinced by bar manager John Gumkowski to try the new cocktail on the menu called the Aviation.

I took one look at it on the menu and said, “No way, it’s got gin in it! Can’t you make me a bourbon drink?”

But I always write about bourbon when it comes to time to pen a Libations column so I figured I should get out of my comfort zone and try something new.

And I have to say, if there was any drink to have gin win me over, it’s the Aviation.

“It doesn’t taste like gin because there is a little lemon juice, Luxardo maraschino cherry liqueur, Creme de Violet and herbal botanist gin, which is very floral,” Gumkowski said.

Those ingredients give the drink a purple hue, and when served up in a martini glass, there’s an appeal to it that catches the eye of other bar patrons, according to Gumkowski.

“We’ve sold 150 of them in a week,” he said.

While my friends joked that they thought it tasted like dish soap and had the color of dirty ski socks in water, I thought it was great.

But what’s even better is knowing that Gumkowski uses top-shelf booze in the well behind the bar.

So the shot and beer special for $8 comes with Basil Hayden’s bourbon.

“I got a good deal on it so I am passing it onto the customers,” he said. “We carry a lot of name-brand booze and these guys from Texas set me up, they don’t really care — just make everybody happy and make good cocktails.”

Another not-to-miss is Clark’s happy hours, where from 3 to 6 p.m. you can get whatever martini you want for $8 — call your vodka or gin.

And on Mondays during football season, $5 draft beer specials start at kickoff.

On Tuesdays, all wines by the bottle are 50% off.

Even fancy places (if they know what they are doing) cater to the locals.

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