2018 was without a doubt, the year of Pink Gin. Well, not the cocktail. Nor a pre-bottled version of the cocktail. But Pink colored gins.That taste like strawberries and rhubarb. Proper Pink Gin is a proper pink gin.
“This made us sad,” That Boutique-y Gin Company writes on the back of their bottles of Proper Pink Gin and their recipe is an attempt to take pink gin back to it’s gin and Angostura bitters origins.
First, bitters are vacuum distilled. Then re-combined with a gentian distillate and lemon distillate. The bitters in Proper Pink Gin are a distilled interpretation of Angostura bitters (and not simply just a gin with bitters put into it).
True to its name, the color of Proper Pink Gin is indeed Pink. Though that may be more for your eyes than for the drink itself. Whereas the cocktail is Pink because the bitters themselves make it pink, this pink is a little bit of magic and after-the-fact coloring.
Proper Pink Gin to the nose is heady with green, waxy juniper. The angostura bark lends a birch-like woodiness to the nose, which complements the lemon and citrus which is also quite prominent.
The palate is far woodier and earthier than the nose might suggest. I find the bitterness here to be a bit more pronounced than simply a Pink Gin cocktail. The gentian root comes on quite strongly, and imparts a dark, earthy, slightly licorice, but mostly gentian note.
Early, the gin comes through. Juniper and citrus, then take on a slightly more spicy mid-palate with a touch of cardamom bun and coriander seed. Then mid-palate this is where the bitterness from the gentian root tincture really comes through. Your palate is cleared, almost as if you’re chewing an artmesia leaf.
The finish is long and bitter. There’s a strong birch bark flavor that carries all the way through, along with a small peak of waxy, thick juniper. Proper Pink Gin reminds me a touch of the way that Top Note’s Tonic Waters use the gentian note to add a more robust bitterness to drinks that feature them.
Proper Pink Gin seems designed for a Gin and Tonic. I paired it with a sweet Schweppes Tonic Water. Lemon seems to take over the nose, as it has a bright citrusy flavor to it. To the palate, the sweetness from the tonic water brightens and lifts the whole thing. The birch note becomes less woody and more subtle. The gentian bitterness which was so dominant on the palate neat recedes and becomes part of a pleasantly balances quinine/gentian note. Juniper takes a stronger place on the finish. With Tonic Water, Proper Pink Gin is quite delicious. I think it’s even better served this way than as a Pink Gin cocktail in a bottle served neat or on the rocks.
Overall, Proper Pink Gin
Up until late 2017, “Pink Gin” was naught but a historical curiosity that gin historians might talk about among themselves. It wasn’t a cocktail that anyone, gin geek or not actually ever ordered out. So to say that pink gin was some sacred term with a well-established meaning might be a bit disingenuous. The average gin drinker had never encountered a Pink Gin and was unlikely to ever do so until the term was re-appropriated by some mainstream gin brands.
I appreciate That Boutique-y Gin Company’s tongue-in-cheek bottle art with a “leading expert” demanding a return to tradition. It’s a obscure tradition, sure, but to some of us, this is what we always though Pink Gin was. Do you know when I bought Gordon’s Pink Gin for the first time, I expected something like this?
This is a long summary. The TL;DR of this situation goes like this.
But if you liked our article on adding bitters to your gin and tonic or just straight-up are the kind of person who does add a dash of bitters to your G&T, then Proper Pink Gin is for you.
Is it proper? I’ll leave that to you decide.
But Proper Pink Gin is a solid Pink Gin in the tradition of the old school sailor’s cocktail.
Recommended among Pink Gins.