This blend of gin and bitters is a British Royal Navy original
Next Tuesday is election day in the US. Finally.
You’ll need a drink, of course – whether to celebrate victory or console yourself in loss. And you’ll want something bracing, with a bit of authority to it.
May we suggest a Pink Gin? It works great as a pre-dinner drink (the austere but perky flavor can wake up the tiredest taste buds). But it also makes a great libation when you just, well, want a drink. Or need one.
So here’s a toast to the end of campaign season. At last.
Recipe: The Pink Gin Cocktail
The Pink Gin Cocktail was developed during the early to mid-19th century, probably by someone in the British Royal Navy. His name is forgotten, but clearly he was a man of genius.
At that time, seafaring folk got a daily ration of alcohol. Rum was the most common spirit, but they consumed plenty of gin, too. Someone decided to add a few dashes of bitters to his daily tot of gin, and the Pink Gin Cocktail was born.
British sailors tended to drink Plymouth gin – i.e., gin that was distilled in the seaside town of Plymouth. Plymouth is a major port in southwest England (the Pilgrims set sail from there on their way to New England), and home to many naval ships.
BTW, British tars probably drank their Pink Gins warm. We’re not that Gunga Din, so we like to serve ours on the rocks. Some people like to shake the drink with ice and serve it “up” in a cocktail glass.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves 1.
- 2 ounces gin (Plymouth gin works best in this drink; see Notes)
- 4 to 6 dashes Angostura bitters (to taste; we suggest starting with 4 dashes)
- lemon twist for garnish (optional)
- Fill a rocks (Old-Fashioned) glass three-quarters full with ice. Add the gin and bitters, then stir briefly.
- Add a lemon twist for garnish, if you wish, and serve.
- “Plymouth Gin” is a brand name today – though originally the term referred more broadly to any gin manufactured in the city of Plymouth.
- Plymouth Gin is distilled at the Black Friars Distillery in Plymouth, England. It’s similar to London dry gin (the style of gin most commonly found in liquor stores). But its flavor is smoother and less harsh – probably because Plymouth Gin contains a higher proportion of root-based flavoring ingredients. It also features less of the “juniper forward” flavor so characteristic of gin.
- We strongly recommend using Plymouth Gin the first time you make this cocktail – the drink will be much smoother than it would be with London dry. Most liquor stores stock Plymouth Gin.
- Admittedly, we sometimes enjoy making this drink with London dry gin. But then, we really like the taste of gin.
- Plymouth Gin is bottled in three different strengths, though the two you’ll most commonly find are “original-strength” and “navy strength.” The original-strength version has an alcohol quotient of 41.2% (82.4 proof). The navy-strength version contains a whopping 57% alcohol by volume (114 proof).
- We recommend using the original, not the navy, strength in this drink. Because the election hasn’t been that bad. OK, maybe it has been. But you get the point.
- As you can probably guess, this drink tastes like gin. And bitters. So people who hate the taste of gin won’t like this drink – though they’ll probably hate it less with Plymouth gin.
- Angostura bitters were developed in the river port of Angostura, Venezuela (today called Ciudad Bolívar) during the 1820s by Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert. Today, we tend to regard bitters as a cocktail ingredient, but they originated as a tonic. They’re said to be a cure for hiccups and upset stomachs.
- Bitters are too strong to drink by themselves. So, from the beginning, they have always been mixed with liquid before being consumed. At some point along the way, someone discovered that they were particularly tasty when added to alcohol – and the rest is cocktail history.
- The Pink Gin Cocktail is often (usually) served without garnish. But a lemon twist adds a pleasing note of citrus, so we like to use it.
Ginning Up Fortitude
“This drink is nice and strong,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Just what I need to get through the end of campaign season.”
“Yup, this definitely is a grown-up drink,” I said. “Because elections are not child’s play.”
“Despite appearances to the contrary,” said Mrs K R.
“And it looks like the mud fighting will go on until the bitter end,” I said.
“The bitter fruits of politics,” said Mrs K R. “Not my favorite flavor.”
“At least it’s almost over,” I said.
“Until the next election,” said Mrs K R.
But 2020 can’t possibly be this bad. Can it?
You may also enjoy reading about:
The Ward Eight Cocktail
The Bronx Cocktail
The Betsy Ross Cocktail
The Jack Rose Cocktail
Or check out the index for more