A pink wave is washing over the Western world and there’s no shortage of strong opinions on the matter. The European and Australian continents are currently glowing with the rosy hue of an explosive drinking trend which might soon light up the U.S.: pink gin.
The current definition of pink gin is a far cry from its origins. One of the first published mentions of Pink Gin was in the 1939 cookery and cocktail guide “The Gentleman’s Companion.” It was simply a glass rinsed with Angostura bitters and filled with London dry or Old Tom gin. What’s become a flourishing category under the same name is now defined by only two requirements—a spirit base consisting of traditional gin botanicals and a visual presentation of pink color.
These vague qualifications have led to wide variation within the trend. While some brands proudly tout the use of real raspberries, strawberries, flowers, or rhubarb to flavor and color their gins, other brands are relying on artificial sweeteners, “strawberry flavor,” “certified color,” and even a unicorn-based extract to capture their share of the market. This has bartenders wary of a return to the popularity of the post-Prohibition, artificially flavored “fruit” liqueurs.
Despite how bartenders feel, the popularity among consumers is undeniable. According to a 2019 report, pink gin accounts for over a quarter of all gin sales in the U.K. and make up almost 70% of growth in the gin market. Reasons for the surge are speculated ad nauseum. Some draw a parallel to the rise of Millennial Pink. Some say pink gin is all about Instagrammability. Some credit (or blame) the generally sweeter profile of pink gins. Whatever the reason, the trend is booming across both ponds and pink gins have already appeared in liquor stores across the United States.
A few local distilleries have jumped onboard. If you fancy yourself a pink gin purist, Lawless Distillery makes a 60-proof version that cuts their gin with Bittercube bitters, plus more citrus and spice. Copperwing Distilling’s Fresas Gin (70-proof) is made pink with a touch of strawberry juice. International brands you’ll find in local liquor stores include Beefeater Pink, Malfy Rosa, and Gordon’s Pink, though you might have a tough time finding it on a local back bar—Minnesota’s bartenders haven’t quite embraced it.
Cocktail bartenders have reconciled with other bright-colored bottles. They’ve re-embraced the impossibly green Midori and quelled their qualms with blue Curaçao. Is nostalgia the only force that can conquer the mixologist resistance? Will this pink panderer turn out to be friend or foe? Only time will tell.
We Got The Pynk Recipe
1½ ounces Copperwing Fresas Strawberry Gin
1 ounce simple syrup
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
4 dashes rhubarb bitters
2 ounces brut prosecco
Shake first four ingredients over ice, add prosecco and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass.