2.2 Proper Pink Gin
Find out why pink always makes the boys wink!
Let’s make this clear straightaway: when I say ‘Pink Gin’, I’m not talking about sticky, fruity, Barbie-doll drinks. I’m talking about the real thing. Proper, big-boy, Pink Gin. This cocktail, much like a Gimlet, has origins out at sea. British Navy crew suffering from sea sickness were prescribed a shot of Angostura Bitters to settle their stomachs. The officers soon added their medicine to their gin rations to alleviate the intense bitterness. For this reason, I like to make Pink Gin with Ludlow Navy Strength Gin, although the classic Dry Gin also works amazingly.
Angostura Bitters has a woody flavour profile, embedded with intense spices and aromatics, as well as warming orangey notes. It is incredibly bitter when consumed neat, but when added to clear spirits and/or tonic it adds a unique complexity (and turns the drink pink!).
Served Straight Up
If sailors could make this cocktail in high seas, you can make it at home. Start by adding four dashes of Angostura Bitters into the bottom of the mixing glass. Make sure they are proper dashes, not just little dribbles. Next, add 3 parts gin and fill the glass with plenty of ice. Use a long spoon to stir the ice around the edge of the glass for a good ten seconds. The mixture should start to glow a divine deep orange colour with a characteristic pink hue. Use your spoon to hold back the ice and decant your cocktail into a martini or coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
If you haven’t got a bottle of Angostura Bitters, Peychauds Bitters also works beautifully. Or, try adding a teaspoon of a bitter aperitivo, such as Asterley Bros Dispense Amaro, instead.
In or Out?
For something longer and more refreshing, serve Pink Gin with ice and tonic. If you ask for a pink gin with tonic at a bar, you’ll be asked, ‘in or out?’ Before you get any ideas, this refers to whether the Angostura Bitters is left ‘in’ the glass, or thrown ‘out’. It simply affects the intensity of the aromatics. For an ‘out’ Pink Gin and tonic, fill your highball glass with ice and add four dashes of Angostura Bitters. Tilt the glass and rinse the bitters up and around the sides. Then use a spoon to hold the ice back and pour away the bitters. Add 2 parts gin and top with Indian Tonic or soda water. For an ‘in’, don’t pour away the bitters. Garnish both with a slice of grapefruit.
Citrus garnishes go great with bitter drinks. Here’s a quick guide: Lemon is refreshing and gives light relief from intense bitterness. Lime gives a sharp zing. Blood orange is generally considered to give a warming aroma. Grapefruit is bright and bittersweet.
The Contemporary Solution
Love the aromatic and warming flavour of Pink Gin? Struggling to find a reliable balance by rinsing Angostura ‘in’ and ‘out’ of your glass? Wardington’s have done the work for you. Ludlow Hibiscus, Orange, and Pink Peppercorn No.4 is a stunning homage to the throat-warming naval tipple. Orange and hibiscus create a delicately fruity structure to the gin, while pink peppercorn adds a tantalizing warmth that tingles across your tongue and clings to your palette. If you can't resist the lure of a little pink, then add dried hibiscus flowers for the perfect serve, or simply enjoy chilled out and naked with a lemon twist.