Pink Gin is a very common cocktail that shows up in just about every vintage cocktail book you can find. The recipe is usually just gin and one or two dashes of bitters, with Angostura usually but not always specified. So it’s obviously a very simple drink, and it’s probably going to taste mostly like gin…
Enter Ted Haigh, who includes the drink in his Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, wherein he specifies Plymouth gin and “six goodly dashes” of Angostura bitters. Furthermore, he swears this is a drink that rises above its constituent ingredients, and even goes so far as to claim he’s made adherents to it out of people who hate gin.
I’ve made this one before, following Haigh’s recipe, and he’s right. It does wind up as something much more than just gin and bitters, at least as far as the overall flavor is concerned. Here’s his recipe:
3 oz. Plymouth gin
6 goodly dashes Angostura bitters (about 1/2 tsp.)
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
You can see where the drink gets its name, although I wouldn’t quite call it pink. While it does taste very much of gin, the heavy dose of bitters blends nicely with the particular qualities of the Plymouth gin. It’s not too alcohol-y, not too ginny, not at all bitter or medicinal. Who can say why this works? But it does. Four livers.
I thought I might play around with the recipe a bit, so I tried another version as well, made with Tanqueray Malacca and Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters.
More like brown gin…The Malacca is even more floral and sweet than the Plymouth, which itself is a few steps up both those ladders from traditional London Dry gin. And the Bitter Truth bitters have much more of a clove-sassafras flavor than the Angostura. I also used a bit more of them, more like 3/4 tsp., which was probably a mistake as they are both more strongly-flavored and more bitter than Angostura. In any case, this version’s ingredients did not gel in the same way as the Plymouth and Angostura did. It’s still a pretty good drink, almost tasting like Root, but definitely harsher than Haigh’s version. Three livers with the Malacca/Bitter Truth. I may revisit this one, first using Angostura with the Malacca, and second cutting down on the Bitter Truth to 1/2 or maybe even 1/3 tsp. We shall see. But in the meantime, Haigh, as usual, has the right of it.