The Seventh Heaven Cocktail is a quick, simple, and summery gin sour. The formula—gin, citrus juice, and Maraschino—will be familiar as the basis of the Aviation in its late 20th-century incarnation—the one without crème de violette. Seventh Heaven uses grapefruit juice instead of the Aviation’s more tart lemon, resulting in a slightly softer cocktail.

I first noticed Seventh Heaven in Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails (2009), but it’s been around in various versions at least since the 1920s, and is included in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), where it’s listed as “Seventh Heaven Cocktail (No. 2.).”

Here’s my take on it:

The Seventh Heaven Cocktail

  • 2 oz Old Tom gin (Hayman’s)
  • ½ oz Maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
  • ½ oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • fresh mint

Shake with ice until cold; strain into a well-chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Many recipes specify just “gin,” or “London Dry Gin,” but I’ve found that Old Tom raises the bar a little on this drink. Beefeaters or Bombay Dry will work, but the Old Tom is a little sweeter and lighter than the standard juniper-forward London Drys. Hayman’s is the brand available in my market, and seems to blend well with the maraschino and grapefruit.

The Seventh Heaven Cocktail, © 2011 Douglas M. Ford. All rights reserved.
The Seventh Heaven Cocktail

The fresh mint garnish is a nice touch; the combination of grapefruit and mint provides a very summery and pleasant nose to the glass.

Some recipes, especially older ones, have very small proportions of grapefruit juice; grapefruit is a relatively light citrus, and can easily be buried by the Maraschino. The 4:1:1 ratio listed here works quite nicely as a starting point; as with all juices, you’ll want to adjust with the seasons, and with your grapefruit supply. It is interesting to note that using grapefruit rather than lemon makes this a much softer sour than the lemon-based Aviation.

(David Embury, in his Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, was aware of the need for a “enough” grapefruit, but I think he sabotaged the drink by adding too large a proportion, twice as much grapefruit juice as Maraschino. “O.K. if you like it,” he reports, “but I’ll take the fourth or fifth heaven with lime or lemon juice instead of grapefruit.” He cracks me up, but that’s a reminder of one of the marvelous things about cocktails—they come in all flavors. if you like grapefruit, Seventh Heaven may be just the thing for you; if you prefer lemon, then mix yourself an Aviation instead, and don’t look back.)

There isn’t much history to be found on this drink. As for the name “Seventh Heaven,” the obvious similarity of this drink’s formula to the Aviation recipe suggests the name is a simple inflation of the aviation theme and the notion of “flying higher,” perhaps leaving worldly troubles behind—at least while you have that delightful gin sour in your hand. Pure speculation, but that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.