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How to make pink gin

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Cocktail image: Plymouth Gin

Little known fact: you have the Royal Navy to thank for pink gin.

Before pink gins became ubiquitous for gin distilleries big and small, pink gin was first a Royal Navy cocktail.

The exact origins of the pink gin cocktail can’t be pinned down, but the pink gin cocktail was a 19th century creation.

In the 1800s, bitters were more medicinal than martini-like. Sailors commonly dashed bitters into gin to make the bitters go down a wee bit easier.

You will need only two ingredients, one of which you’re certain to have on hand: gin.

As for the second ingredient, Angostura bitters, is another 19th century invention. The bitters are a bar classic and the secret ingredient to making the pink cocktail pink.

This is a navy recipe, and like navy strength gin, the stiffness of this cocktail is nothing to sniff at — there is no less than almost two and a half shots here. There are no mixers to speak of and merely three dashes of bitters between you and 60ml of gin.

So drink slowly lest you feel lost at sea…

The Original Pink Gin Cocktail


  • 60ml dry gin (Plymouth Gin is a good pick)
  • 3 dashes Anostura bitters
  • Lemon zest
  • Chilled cocktail glass


  1. Method 1: Splash the bitters inside a martini glass, rolling the liquid around to coat the glass. Pour off the excess bitters. Pour in gin, garnish with lemon zest and serve.
  2. Method 2: Mix gin, bitters and ice in a cocktail shaker. Stir well. Strain into glass and garnish with lemon zest.