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Pink Gin

Written by Gin Foundry

Pink Gin is a Royal Navy cocktail with a history dating back to the 1800s. The drink is sharp and heavy, with its alluring colour hinting at its rich, dry taste (and its somewhat dizzying effects). This is a cocktail very well suited to the end of a long day; it’s no fuss to fix up and it’ll leave you with a nice, leisurely buzz.

How to make a Pink Gin:

 60ml Dry Gin

3 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir down and serve in a chilled coupe with a lemon zest.

There are two ways to make this drink – one includes rolling the bitters around the glass to coat, then tipping out the excess and pouring in ice cold gin from the freezer. The other includes combining both ingredients and stirring with ice, then straining it into a glass. We opt for the latter.

Ice doesn’t get much of a mention in any old recipes, which is no surprise given that this was traditionally served at sea, so the above is our way of making the iconic cocktail. If you want tradition, go for a high proof barrel aged gin and serve it at room temperature. It won’t be great but hey, that’s the “authentic” part eh… Personally, we recommend using Plymouth Navy Gin for a classic Pink Gin cocktail, or for something a little more modern, try Pink Pepper Gin - adding loads of ice to the mixing stage and a judicious use of lemon zest to taste.

An abridged, inebriated history:

This isn’t so much a cocktail as the result of a happy accident; one can only imagine members of the Royal Navy stumbling about the scullery, pawing through the shelves in a bid to find something, anything, to mix with their seasickness preventing bitters to make them taste less, well, bitter.

The remedy: gin. A healthy splash and the liquids are transformed into an astonishingly complex, distinctly-non-Navy-standard-pink drink, with a hefty kick and a sharp bite. Cured! Well, at least that’s what we like think as no-one really knows when or when the first Pink gin cocktail was created.

The formula for Angostura Bitters was perfected in 1824 by German doctor Johann Siegert of Angostura, Venezuela, who was seeking a remedy for tropical stomach ailments. The bitters made their way to England in the 1830s and by 1862 were being exhibited and sampled in London. They made their way onto ships not long after, and before long the excitable gin fiends aboard had created the Pink Gin. All Navy men return to shore eventually, so it didn’t take a great deal of time for the cocktail to become a bar staple.

Naval men were big drinkers back in the 1800s so what might not have touched the sides for them, is almost certain to set you on your keister. Treat it the same as you would a Martini. Drink it slowly and drink it wisely.