What Is Pink Gin?

For the last five summers or so, there’s been an uptick in pink beverages. That means a surge in pink wine and pink cider, among others. The pink wave has led to a series of unlikely contenders, like pink tequila and pink vodka, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that pink gin was a johnny-come-lately spirit, the liquor industry’s answer to more Instagrammable gin and tonics. 

But actually pink gin is much older than Instagram. The drink first became popular in the 19th century among British sailors. It’s essentially gin with bitters in it, with the red color of the bitters making the clear gin pink. The Royal Navy drank it warm as an aid to seasickness and various other ailments, but as for drinking it in 2019 I’d recommend one over ice, and probably with a splash of tonic water.

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You can, of course, make your own pink gin the old-fashioned, seafaring way, but there’s also a number of distilleries selling their own bottled versions. There are various methods of making gin, but essentially, it’s a neutral grain spirit that’s been infused with botanical flavors. Juniper is one of the traditional ingredients, which is what give gin its distinctive Christmas-tree-flavor notes. 

Various pink gins use different fruits and herbs, like strawberries and raspberries, alongside those to enhance the pink color. It’s already gotten very popular in the U.K., making up six percent of all gin sales in 2018. Now, many of the gins are emigrating stateside, and are becoming more available to the drinking public. Odds are that if you have a favorite large-scale gin distillery, they have a version of pink gin. You can try Beefeater Pink Gin if you prefer a London style gin, or Wolffer Estate Pink Gin for something more floral.

Odds are, with a lot more summer left, you’re going to be seeing a lot more pink martinis and pink gin and tonics, too. 

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