The last three years have seen the meteoric rise of a particular type of gin, whose name is both simple and surprisingly confusing; namely, “Pink Gin”.
Today, an exact definition is hard to fashion beyond “a gin that is pink in colour” and, in honesty, it is little more than that. But that has not always been the case….
The Original Pink Gin
The original Pink Gin (the proper kind), a simple mix of gin and Angostura Bitters, has its origins in the 19th Century, but it was not until the 20th Century that the term became widely used and it was likely popularised during the First World War.
A 1900 article from the Pall Mall Gazette mentions the popularity of a “frothy mixture of gin, angostura and ice” in the West Indies; although the term “Pink Gin” is not mentioned specifically this certainly describes one.
A 1928 article describes the drink as being prevalent in China, where trays laden with wine-glasses of gin, a bottle of Angostura, and a jug of water were served to and enjoyed by British naval officers.
By the 1950s, Pink Gins were often used to advertise both gin brands and Angostura Bitters with tag-lines like “How much rosier everything is with pink gin!” and, just like the colour of the drink, the future of the Pink Gin looked rosy.
The New Upstart
In the last few years, another meaning has developed for “pink gin”: the rather unimaginative definition of “a gin what is pink”; how bourgeois! The modern trend for pink gins started around 2011, but got turbo-charged a few years later with the surge of strawberry gins from Spain, all of which were known as “Strawberry Gin”.
When the trend finally reached the UK, a number of variants were released on the market with the moniker “pink gin” and, for now, the name has stuck.
Pink Gin Strikes Back
It could be conceded that the lukewarm mix of gin and Angostura Bitters is a tad dated and in need of a little zhoosh in order to appeal to a more modern audience…
Enter: Proper Pink Gin.
Proper Pink Gin uses vacuum-distilled Angostura Bitters; the vacuum distillation process removes all of the colour and bitterness, whilst retaining all of the other flavours. This is added to gentian distillate (to add bitterness) and lemon distillate (to add the zesty liveliness you would usually get from a garnish), before being combined with a gin made from a classic mix of botanicals. Each bottle is then finished off with a dash of Angostura Bitters and a natural pink colour.
A Proper Taste
Nose: Zesty lemon, along with complex, earthy spice and a hint of toasted Welsh cakes.
Taste: Bold, vibrant and dry; a rich symphony of spice with any sweetness neatly balanced by the clean earthiness of gentian.
Finish: A residual woody spice, accompanied by the gentle warmth of cracked black pepper.
A Proper Serve
The gin is a delight to drink neat with a couple of ice cubes; it contains everything you need for a Perfect Proper Pink Gin.
For a colder option, shake it vigorously with ice cubes (dry vermouth optional), before fine straining into a Martini glass. The result is a delicate shade of rose and the shaking adds a pleasant, soft fluffiness. Very easy to sip.
Pink Gin & Tonic
50ml Proper Pink Gin
150ml Tonic water
Garnish in the Evans’ style (with a wedge each of lemon and lime, or an orange wedge)
A crisp, bright and refreshing drink with a great complexity thanks to the added distillates and bitters.