It might sound like a trend meant to capitalize on a hot color (drinks in millennial pink, anyone?) but Pink Gin has been around a lot longer than you might think. First a cocktail created by British sailors that made it’s way back to land and gained popularity in the 19th century, pink gin is now a bottled creation in its own right.
The Pink Gin cocktail was created by sailors mixing their daily ration of gin with Angostura bitters. Angostura was considered a medicinal tonic that promised to prevent everything from malaria to seasickness. Sailors considered the drink less a “cocktail” as we think of it; it was more of a health tonic.
Since the best medicine also tastes good, the sailors kept drinking the concoction when they got home, spreading the popularity of the drink across England. However, the simple drink has fallen out of popularity and few people know what it is, especially here in the States.
Today, pink gin is made as a distinct liquor distilled with ingredients like rhubarb, raspberry, pink flowers, gooseberry, and grapefruit. It’s made primarily by distillers in the United Kingdom, which means here in the U.S. it’s even harder to find than pink lettuce and cotton candy grapes.
One place you can get U.S.-made pink gin is Wölffer Estate Vineyard in New York. The base of the gin is distilled from their own Rosé wine and they use juniper berries grown there at the vineyard.
And in case you have a trip to the U.K. planned (or a good friend traveling there), here are a few brands you should try.
Edgerton Pink Gin launched in 2011 and the distiller says they are the first to make a contemporary pink gin.
Solway Spirits Rhubarb Crumble Gin gets rave reviews. Not that you need a reason to visit Scotland, but this distillery alone might be worth the trip.
Slingsby Rhubarb Gin uses local ingredients like rhubarb and Harrogate spring water and add a touch of pink grapefruit for a winning pink gin.
Whether or not you can find pink gin in the U.S., the original cocktail is easy to make. Here’s a recipe to get you started.
Pink Gin Cocktail
Because there are only two ingredients, using quality gin is best. We’ll also note that the traditional method of serving this drink (that is, the way British sailors would have had it) is warm. But warm gin isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so to speak, which is why here it’s served chilled.
Get the recipe here.