Pink Gin

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Pink Gin
Type Cocktail
Primary alcohol by volume
Served Straight up; without ice
Standard garnish lemon
Standard drinkware
Cocktail Glass (Martini).svg
Cocktail glass
Commonly used ingredients
Preparation Chill the glass, then coat the inside with the Bitters. Add the gin very well chilled, garnish and serve.
Notes The traditional garnish is a shave of lemon rind. You can obtain this by removing about an inch strip of lemon rind with a potato peeler.

Pink Gin or Pink Plymouth is a cocktail made fashionable in England in the mid-19th century, consisting of Plymouth gin[1] and a dash of Angostura bitters, a dark red bitters that makes the whole drink pinkish. Lemon rind is also commonly used as a garnish, with the citrus oils subtly complementing the flavour.


Pink gin is widely thought to have been created by members of the Royal Navy. Plymouth gin is a 'sweet' gin, as opposed to London gin which is 'dry', and was added to Angostura bitters to make the consumption of Angostura bitters more enjoyable[2] as they were used as a treatment for sea sickness in 1824 by Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert.[3]

The British Royal Navy then brought the idea for the drink to bars in England,[4] where this method of serving was first noted on the mainland. By the 1870s, gin was becoming increasingly popular and many of the finer establishments in England were serving Pink Gin.[5]


A typical pink gin is one part gin and one dash of angostura bitters.

Though there are no major variations of pink gin, many bartenders vary the amount of angostura bitters used. Typically the drink is topped up with iced water, rarely without water.

A bartender may ask the customer whether he wants it "in or out", upon which the bartender swirls the angostura bitters around the glass before either leaving it in, or pouring it out (leaving only a residue), and then adding the gin.

It is also common for pink gin to be served as 'pink gin and tonic', typically consisting of 4 dashes of angostura bitters and 2 shots of gin, which is then topped up with tonic water. This is served in a highball glass over ice, and then can be garnished with lemon.[6]

Cedric Charles Dickens (great-grandson of Charles Dickens) records in Drinking With Dickens that a 'Burnt Pink Gin' consists of 1 tsp Angostura burnt by heating over a flame and then poured into "a large tot dry gin".[7]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the 1953 film adaptation of Nicholas Monsarrat's book, The Cruel Sea, Lockhart (Donald Sinden) meets Ericson (Jack Hawkins) at a London hotel where they both drink pink gin. In a somewhat rewritten scene in the BBC Radio 4 Extra adaptation of 2013, the pair drink gin and tonic.
  • Pink gin is ordered by David Tomlinson in Up the Creek (1958).
  • In the 1989 episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot, titled Triangle at Rhodes, some of the characters drink pink gin, one such cocktail being used as the delivery method of a deadly poison.
  • Lottie Cassell offers a pink gin to Logan Mountstuart in Episode 1 of the Channel 4 TV series Any Human Heart. 2010 (UK), 2011 (US).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gin cocktail recipes II". Retrieved 2010-06-14. 
  2. ^ "Great Cocktails: Pink Gin". Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  3. ^ "Angostura Bitters". Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  4. ^ "Bitters in the bar". Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  5. ^ "The History of Gin". The BBC. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  6. ^ "Pink Gin and Tonic". In The Spirit. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  7. ^ Drinking With Dickens. Elvendon Press. 
  8. ^ Hamilton, Patrick. “The Slaves of Solitude.” New York Review of Books. 2007. Print. pg. 89
  9. ^