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Friday, September 4, 2009

Pink Gin: a cocktail the Pilgrim Fathers would have enjoyed

Discovered the other day while trying to get caught up on my cocktail blog reading was Erik Ellestad’s recent post on the Pink Gin, a simple cocktail recipe with only two ingredients that delivers a surprising treat. The striking photos on Erik’s site told me that this was one cocktail I had to try. The recipe is one that Ellestad was mixing for his project to recreate every cocktail recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), and he faithfully recreated that recipe (well, except for serving it on crushed ice). He also mentioned that the recipe was explored in Dr. Cocktail’s (Ted Haigh’s) book “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails”, a copy of which sits near my easy chair. Ted has experimented with the recipe enough that he recommends a couple of specific gins and has upped the bitters from a single dash to a grand total of six! That’s two “goodly dashes” of bitters per ounce of gin.

Just these two sources gave me plenty of variations to play with to develop a recipe that I could write home (or, at least, you) about. First step was a little less gin. Harry Craddock calls for a glass, and Haigh wants three ounces. That’s a little much for most people, especially if you like to have more than one cocktail. The amount of bitters, however, was intriguing. Erik went for the Savoy’s single dash (although there’s no way there was only one dash in his photos), while Dr. Cocktail went for six. Could the gin hold up to that bitter assault? The bottle of Plymouth gin that I had in my bar definitely did. The drink was surprisingly good in spite of its simplicity, and sipping the gin that was probably the last gin the Pilgrim Fathers threw back before departing England is a patriotic bonus. This cocktail is great on the rocks or straight up; I prefer rocks because the cold offsets the bitters, but you should experiment both ways to determine your preference.

Pink Gin

2 oz Plymouth Gin

4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Pour the gin into a mixing glass 2/3 full of ice. (If serving up, add the bitters now.) Stir briskly until it looks cold enough. Strain into a chilled white wine glass 2/3 full of ice and dash the bitters on top. (If serving up, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.) Garnish with good will and enjoy!


  1. I'm tempted to say that using 2 oz has got to be a Utah thing. We always get weak drinks here. A Martini has always been 3 oz, so doing a Pink Gin that way just makes sense.
    I found your blog looking for text related to the Pink Gin. I used the Ted Haigh recipe over the Harrington one and really liked it.
    I've been a fan of turn of the century cocktails for many years. I've turned to Tiki drinks some lately to provide something for those who like more fruit in a cocktail. Hopefully, you didn't completely turn away from the Zombie. After making the effort to find a local Peruvian market with passion fruit pulp to make the syrup, a good recipe for falernum and mail ordering Lemonhart 151 to a legal state I maintain an address at just for these types of things, doing up a Zombie is a revelation.

  2. Hi Brownbag:

    I enjoyed your comment. The reason I back off the full 3 ounces a bit is that two cocktails start to add up to quite a bit of liquor. Plus I like my cocktails to be still cold when I finish, and I like to sip and savor. Then it's still fun to mix up another if I feel like having more. I can, however, sympathize with your desire to take care of business.

    I do enjoy Zombies and many other Tiki drinks. Tikis can be a lot of fun, plus they remind me of Hawaii. I've never had Lemonhart 151 though, I'll have to try some when I'm travelling.