Today is Pink Gin Day, so let’s take a look at the history behind this quintessentially-British tipple.
Pink gin wouldn’t be pink gin without Angostura bitters. Johann Siegert was a German physician and was attached to the Venezuelan military in the 19th Century. He created Angostura bitters is the early nineteenth contrary as a cure for dysentry in the ranks. It takes its name from the town of Angostura, not the tree of the same name. The recipe is a closely guarded secret, but it does not contain any angostura bark. So closely guarded is the formula in fact that it is only known in its entirety to one person at a time, and is passed on only at death! Siegert began selling Angostura bitters commercially from 1824, and in 1875 production was moved to Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Pink Gin and the Royal Navy
Whilst Angostura bitters may not be especially effective against dysentery, it is good for calming an upset stomach. This quality brought it to the attention of the Royal Navy, who began stocking it on board ship as a cure for seasickness. Plymouth gin was widely consumed by officers in the navy, and it is this gin’s sweetness that makes it an excellent partner to the intensely bitter Angostura. The mixture caught on, and eventually spread form the wardroom to dry land, where it became fashionable amongst civilians as well as the armed forces.
Traditionally a pink gin would be one measure of gin with a dash of Angostura, although it was normal to add water or soda water. Another popular variation is with tonic water, which makes a more palatable long drink for the modern palate.
The new wave
The gin boom of the last few years has seen an explosion of gins that are pink in colour. We first stocked Eden Mill Love gin, which uses hibiscus and rose petals to give it a light pink hue. Another recent addition to our selection is Edgerton Pink Gin. This uses some seriously exotic botanicals to create a delightful pink gin. Including pomegranate, damiana (a Mexican aphrodisiac) grains of paradise nutmeg and almond powder. Both Edgerton and Eden Mill Love are available in our Gin Collection, each with complimentary garnishes.
Keep it simple
Of course, the classic addition of a few dashes to a gin and tonic is the most well-known way to enjoy a pink gin. But you could try the amazing Fever Tree Aromatic tonic instead. Fever Tree have used angostura bark, in contrast to Angostura bitters). Also used are warm spices like cardamom, ginger and pimento, and the result is a light pink tonic that makes a great spicy mixer for big, juniper-led London Dry Gins. You can pick up a bottle from Waitrose.
So, on this pink gin day raise a glass to another great British tipple!