Pink gin is a type of drink from the mid-19th century made from Plymouth gin and Angostura bitters, which was originally a cocktail. This is the traditional pink gin recipe, far from the pink gin we know of today. The Angostura bitters is what made pink gin pink, although these days the pink colour comes from the fruits used or colourings.

Pink gins these days are flavoured with berries, like strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants.

What flavour is pink gin?

Today, pink gin has a sweet but tart flavour because it's made with strawberry, redcurrant and raspberries. A dry gin is normally used to complement these sweet, fruity notes, making for a great tasting drink.

The traditional Pink Gin cocktail of Plymouth gin and Angostura bitters has a very bitter, dry taste, thanks to the type of gin (dry) and bitters used. It could be compared to other digestif drinks in flavour.

A pink gin should not have any added sugar in the recipe, as this subtracts away from the iconic gin flavour. Gin liqueurs, however, will often have sugar added to the recipe, as there's a focus on dulling the dry gin taste.

What is pink gin made from?

Pink gin is made just like any other normal gin, through a distillation process. The flavours and any added colourings are added during this process to infuse the gin. Common pink gin ingredients like red berries (like strawberries and redcurrants), rose petals and other spices are added to steep the spirit.

Once the process is complete, the pink gin is ready to enjoyed on a hot summer's day with some tonic water (or elderflower tonic for those alternative gin drinkers).

The history of pink gin

Pink gin in a tumbler glass with ice

Pink gin was the creation of the British Royal Navy in the 1800s. Angostura bitters were widely used by sailors as a remedy for sea sickness. It wasn’t exactly how the Angostura bitters recipe is now, but similar, nonetheless. Its taste was extremely bitter and almost unpalatable. To solve this, sailors decided to mix the bitters with Plymouth gin to stomach the medicine. This is where pink gin comes from.

Gin has such an extensive history, even beyond pink gin. Our 'what is gin?' blog covers the history gin, as well as your other burning gin questions! 

Why is pink gin so popular?

Pink gin cocktail in a white table with some ingredients like lime, lemon and ice

Pink gins are starting to boom on the market right now. No, we don’t mean the traditional Pink Gin cocktail made up of gin and Angostura Bitters (which is very tasty by the way)! We are talking about the spirit that gin enthusiasts can’t stop talking about.

For industry expert Taavi Tenso, Brand Ambassador for Crafters (Liviko), the reason why pink gin has become so popular is because companies and brands found that people didn’t like the taste of gin that much. People found it to be too dry as a spirit and even more so when mixed with tonic.

“For us, that was when we started using Fentimans Rose Lemonade with London Dry released it to the market. Then we got the idea to make a gin that works with the regular tonics everytime.”

Taavi finishes by telling us that: “Pink gin has a huge fanbase. It’s just that they don’t know about pink gin yet”.

Ever wondered, why is gin so popular? Our article here explains all...

Pink gin cocktails

Barman stirring pink gin cocktail

Pink gin can be a great addition to a cocktail, giving that alternative edge to normal gin. Here are our best pink gin cocktails to make...

Fruit-up a traditional Gin and Tonic by substituting the gin for pink gin. This is an easy pink gin cocktail recipe to follow as it only requires gin and tonic water. Add in a few cut strawberries for a fancy finish!

However, our favourite is the Gordon's Pink Spritz. Like to drink gin but fancy something a little sweeter to compliment a fine summer's evening? This one's for you!

Take a large wine glass and add 50ml of Gordon's Pink Gin, 50ml of lemonade and 25ml of Prosecco. Stir it up and enjoy the experience!

Take a look at our 'what is a cocktail' page for more cocktail inspiration here.

Best pink gin brands

Pink gin can be tricky to get right sometimes. There are some brands of pink gin out there that aren't very good (to put it politely). But finding the best pink gin isn't so hard...

Here’s our top 11 pink gins in no particular order:

1. Gordon’s Pink Gin

2. Manchester Gin Raspberry Infused

3. Pinkster Gin

4. Edgerton Original Pink Gin

5. Gin Lane 1751

6. Burleighs Gin Pink Edition

7. M&S Think Pink Gin

8. Musgrave Pink Gin

9. Larios Rose Premium Gin

10. Rives Premium Pink Gin

11. Whitley Neil Raspberry Gin

Final thoughts

Pink gin is a super interesting concept in the bartending world with a very strong history. It's changed over the centuries into something more fit for the mainstream drinker, but we still can't fault the stuff.

Pink gin will continue to go from strength to strength and will have people constantly trying to reinvent its flavour and use. Long live the pink gin!

Now you know what is pink gin, find out about this mysterious gin, Unicorn Tears Gin here. 

Feel inspired? Take a look at our EBS Bartender Courses here.