Classic (Game) Cocktail of the Week: Mexican Flyer

Mixing up the perfect accompaniment for this week's podcast.

Some people like to unwind over the weekend by listening to favorite podcasts; others prefer to relaxing with an alcoholic libation. We figure: Why not both? With the Classic (Game) Cocktail column, we'll offer recommendations on cocktail recipes to accompany our most recent podcast episode. We won't necessarily post one of these every week, but hopefully before too long we'll have a nice little recipe book...

Disclaimer: Please drink responsibly, and only if you are of legal age (or have permission). 

Classic (Game) Cocktail #2: Mexican Flyer

This week, I spoke with legendary game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi about his start in video games, specifically focused around his early breakout titles Space Channel 5 and Rez. One of the most fascinating things about Space Channel 5 for me involves its music: Specifically, the fact that Mizuguchi and United Game Artists constructed so much of the game around a single classic musical hook. Space Channel 5 wouldn't be the masterpiece we know and love if not for the pervasive presence of Ken Woodman's "Mexican Flyer."

This cocktail pays tribute to that vintage jazz piece with this minor riff on a vintage cocktail. Our Mexican Flyer is based on the classic Aviation with a very small modification (replacing the lemon juice with a mix of lemon juice and limoncello) — barely enough of a change to notice, but just enough for us to justify not simply calling this an Aviation. There's nothing specifically Mexican about it, and please don't do anything rash like replacing the gin with tequila just to be gimmicky. The Aviation is a perfectly balanced cocktail, and one should not tamper lightly with perfection. (In this case, the limoncello adds a negligible amount of sweetness and an imperceptible bit of alcohol, but not so much of either as to be distracting.)


  • 2 oz. dry gin
  • 1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4 oz. limoncello
  • 1/4 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. creme de violette

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake vigorously until cold, then pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The finished cocktail is a perfect companion for Space Channel 5. The floral scent and pale lavender color infused by the creme de violette makes for a delicate, even feminine cocktail. But it's pretty much just straight alcohol and packs a hefty punch. Delicate-looking yet powerful: That's Ulala in a nutshell.

A few minor notes:

  • For reference, if you remove the limoncello and double the lemon juice, you have an Aviation.
  • You'll want to use a very neutral gin, ideally a London dry. I used an unusually tame American dry here (Doc Porter's, available regionally in the North Carolina area), but for best results you'd probably want to go with something classic and predictable, like Beefeater or Gordon's.
  • There's some debate about whether or not a proper Aviation should have the purple tint you see above, as it's widely believed that vintage creme de violette took the form of a clear liqueur. This is not a proper Aviation, so it doesn't matter.
  • You'll notice this cocktail has a very similar ingredient list to last week's, but you'll find that the use of creme de violette instead of saffron results in a drink that tastes complete different.
  • Creme de violette can be pretty tough to come by; I had to go out of state to find it. Best of luck.