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
You might drive me to drink -- mixed drinks, that is. I already do wine and sometimes beer. But you make these cocktails look so PRETTY!
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Thank you so much, I need a new (strong) drink to get us through election night next week ~ love your glass!
Hi Mae, we used to drink only wine and beer, but really grew to love the stories behind cocktails. And their good looks. And finally their flavor! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Sue, this is the ticket! And we really love those glasses too -- they're over 100 years old! Thanks for the comment.
You are absolutely right.. this election season has been crazy and needs a drink, but what about those who do not drink!!! can you think of something? :). I'm sure that I will not be either celebrating or consoling but for sure I will be happy that this race is over.
Love its autumn color... it would be a hit for Thanksgiving!
Hi Amira, if I didn't drink, this election season would certainly tempt me! And yes, can't wait until this is over. :-( Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, this is a good drink any time of the year! Thanks for the comment.
I think we could all use one of these drinks after this nightmare of an election season. It looks tasty John!
Oh this election! Yes, I need a good, stiff drink! I do like the lemon twist too. Sometimes I'm embarrassed to be an American, but then I remember that all this difference of opinion is part of the Democratic process (or so I try to tell myself!).
I actually had a dream about the election last night. I think it is due to all of the tv ads and chatter on Facebook. Whatever the reason, I need a drink and this one looks like it will do it. Beautiful drink.
I am not American but I'm really curious about election day. And I think I'll need a drink as well :D
I voted, I'm done and now I can watch movies on Netflix while hubby watches the election....... . You make the best cocktails ever. Prost !��
I just invented my own Election Eve cocktail-it involves Pimm's, Deep Eddy's lemon vodka, and fizzy lemonade or lemon seltzer--it seems like we all crave going back to Mother England! I call it the LaGuardia Runway-
Thanks for all the fun reads on your site!
Gorgeous clicks, John. I love the colour, lighting and your glass as well :-))
It has been a difficult election process but whatever happens it's almost over. Wonderful drink John!
Looks like an awesome drink!
I need more than one...can I start early?
I do like gin but this is almost barebones which of course has me more curious than ever. I'm glad you added the garnish; I've grown so found of them that an ungarnished cocktail looks naked! :)
Hi Deb, we love history, and let us assure you that as bad as this election is, the US has seen worse. Much worse. :-( Thanks for the comment.
Hi Karen, you probably do need one of these! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Marta, we're ALL curious about election day! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Gerlinde, your approach is BY FAR the most sensible! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Anonymous, sounds like a Pimm's Cup with the addition of lemon vodka. Don't actually see the point of the vodka, however, but then I haven't tasted the drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Angie, those are neat glasses, aren't they? Belonged to my great-grandmother. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Cheri, let's drink to it being almost over! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Peachy, it is! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Barbara, I used to ignore the garnish -- before I started photographing cocktails! Half the time we're shooting the garnish. :-) And they do add flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pam, it's an awfully good drink. And worth drinking even after this election! Thanks for the comment.
I already planned on drinking my tears away on election night! Ha ha! So this is perfect.
How very pretty, John.
Hi Ashley, glad to be of service with this drink! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, it's a good one! Thanks for the comment.
Maybe the Navy strength for Tuesday night! Such a simple, lovely cocktail!
Hi Liz, we might need it! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I may need this drink and a massage to relieve all the stress this election may cause. To make matters worse 2 independents have been added to the ticket to sway voters. Those 2 alone could get enough votes to totally screw things up causing the U.S. To end up with our worst nightmare whoever yours may be. Heaven help us!
Hi Vicki, interesting times. :-( One -- or two! -- of these should help. :-) Thanks for the comment.
So I must ask - how many drinks do you have a day?! I mean, you make so many delicious looking ones - I would want to drink them all! ha ah!
Hi GiGi, actually, none! We do have a cocktail or two on Friday and Saturday, but that's about it. Oh, and wine if we're out to dinner. :-) Thanks for the comment.
We've been watching a telenovela set in 1940s Spain. They kept ordering pink gins and we could figure out what they were drinking. Thanks for clearing it up!
Oh! These cocktails look so damn pretty, John. It's Thursday and I so wish It was Friday so I could have a glass or two or may be three of these beauties. :)
Gosh let's hope 2020 is a thousand times better. A stiff drink like this is what we all need about now! I'll drink to the end of the election too - and this sounds like the perfect inspiration. The color is enticing indeed! Yeah Cubs!
Hi Lydia, pink gin used to be much more popular in the first half of the 20th century (and late 19th century). I understand it's still way more popular in Britain than it is in the rest of the world. Let's bring it back! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Any, it'll be Friday soon enough. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Tricia, that was a good world series, wasn't it? Glad the Cubs finally won one! Thanks for the comment.
There is just something about a "pink gin" and the British Royal navy that just sounds odd. I can't see my husband going into a bar and ordering one even though I know he would like it. :D
You know, I can't decide if I like your food or drink pieces the best, John!
All so intriguing.
Hi Karen, you could also call this gin and bitters, I suppose. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rosemary, it's good to have choices, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Getting through this election definitely requires a 'pick-me-up' like your cocktail. I can't wait until the mud-slinging is over with. We will have 2.5 years until it starts over again. (John, please start practicing your election cocktails for the new round starting 2.5 years from no- we will need your expertise)!
We will all definitely need a drink next week! Gorgeous pics and love the glass. Gin is so in right now to.. I do think it is funny how a navy drink has the wrd ink in it lol. Thanks for sharing!
I don't think I can even wait for the election to be over for a drink. This looks so glamorous in that nice crystal glass.
Hi Fran, I'm always on the lookout for a good election cocktail! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Evelyne, I hadn't really thought about the "pink" in the name, but now that I do, it's odd from the US perspective. Of course didn't/don't fox hunters in England wear "pink" coats -- named after the tailor? Gotta look that up! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, you may need a brace of these this weekend in order to brace yourself for the election. :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, there's one that's going to look so good on me! :D Lovely photo.
I was just having a conversation with Batman (that's what I call my partner, :)) about the next election. He's an American transplanted here and he's worried that the next one will be even worse because it seems that people have become accustomed to the absurdity of everyone's outlandish behaviour!
Time to stock up on the Pink Gin Cocktails!
The colour, the glass, the beautiful shot - all perfection! Thanks, John :) and thank you, Mrs. Riffs for the giggles!
Hi Jean, :D You'll love it! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Robyn, love that you call your partner Batman! Politics in the US has gotten weird -- lotta politicians seem to have lost their grounding. So yes, time to stock up on Pin Gin Cocktails! Thanks for the comment.
Hi John! As you know I just LOVE your cocktail photography. This beauty is no exception. Very inviting. And I LOVE gin cocktails. It's amazing, the little nuances of flavors in different gin varieties. I'm afraid this cocktail may do its duty long after the election is over! Thanks for sharing this! :)
Hi Anne, unfortunately given how mucky politics have been for quite a while now, we may be needing a regular ration of these. :-( Good thing the drink looks and tastes wonderful! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've been known to make pink gin with orange bitter, but it comes out more yellow. GREG
Hi Greg, I made pink gin once with orange bitters and liked it. Color was a bit odd, though, as you suggest. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such a fun history and it sounds like a fun drink too. Yes indeed, these are crazy times.
Hi Chris, cocktail history is so much fun! We've learned a ton from studying it. And of course the drinks -- like this one! -- are a tasty bonus. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Looks crisp and delicious and I too would want this over the rocks too. I have just had to shut off all news stations as I feel like it is just one big huge soap opera...oh dear maybe one or better make that 2 of your delicious pink gin cocktails will keep our mind off the details.
Hi Bobbi, definitely better make it 2 of these -- it is indeed a soap opera, isn't it? :-( Thanks for the comment.
Oh, how I missed your cocktails, and your posts. Hope you are doing wonderful. Always love reading the history behind the drinks. This picture is so stunning, and the lighting is so perfect as usual.
Hi Asha, isn't cocktail history fun? Love the stories! Thanks for the comment.
I think we will all need a stiff one Tuesday night. And 2020? YOu've got to be kidding! And that whole thing about the ice? You are right that they wouldn't have had ice so long ago. I need my ice-can't imagine what it would taste like without!
CHEERS! And here's to the end of the election period. :)
Hi Abbe, in the spirit of research, I did taste this without ice. Better than I would have thought, but once was enough. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pamela, cheers indeed! And SO ready for the election to be over! Thanks for the comment.
I try not to comment on the politics of countries other than my own! But I will certainly be watching election coverage on Tuesday night with great interest.
Hi Beth, yup, "great interest" is one way to look at things! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Sadly, I am one of those people who don't like gin and I doubt the bitters would help. But the photo is quite lovely and took my mind off the mud slinging that's been going on south of our border. I wonder how our wall is coming along...Interestingly enough, I use Angostura Bitters to add a little red into browning liquid when food styling to enhance grill marks...works like a charm.
Hi Eva, I've read that food stylists sometimes use Angostura bitters to help enhance the color of some dishes! Interesting idea. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Bring on the gin! It looks like a great cocktail esp since I love gin! Our Cubbies won, now if only our fave candidate would tomorrow! I need to make this great drink to celebrate! Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Pam, congrats on the Cubs winning it all. It's about time! And hope you get to celebrate tomorrow. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I think I may need two of those babies for tomorrow's election. LOL Heck, make it three -- because I am so into gin lately, too.
Hi Carolyn, three is a great number for a special occasion! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Now here's a drink that even I won't be able to screw up. And I may well need one (or three) as the night goes on... !
Hi Frank, let's hope we need several of these for celebratory purposes! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is just my cup of gin!
Hi Caroline, it's a good one! :-) Thanks for the comment.
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