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My Pink Drink

October 2, 2009

I’m guessing you did not take me for a guy who would drink a pink cocktail.

And really, you would be right.  I’m not ordering a Cosmopolitan, although honestly it has nothing to do with it being pink and girly.  Under the right circumstances you can find me with a Mai Tai or Champagne Cocktail.  When Cosmos are made right they taste brightly of citrus balanced with sweetness, like an adult limeade.  But it’s just that they are seldom made right.  And instead of something tart and simple, one is left with a cloyingly sweet and bland drink.  Meh.

No, my pink drink is something different.  It has character.  It has history.  It has flavor.  It has gin.

Michael Jackson (whom I also mentioned in last week’s cocktail post) describes this drink as:

The lingering flavor of smart London – Park Lane, Berkeley Square and the watering holes of Mayfair between the wars and in the 1940s – although this “sophisticated” drink originated as a medicinal potion in the British navy.

Sill, I am guessing that if you are a big fan of the Cosmopolitan, you will hate it.  In fact, hate may not be a strong enough word.

I enjoy it.  Certainly there is something special about drinking something that used to be very popular and now is almost unheard of.  I imagine it’s similar to the joy people derive from antiquing or listening to music on records.

I also love its juxtaposition of complexity and simplicity.  Because the taste is intensely layered and spicy and herbaceous, but its preparation couldn’t be simpler.

My old spirits guru, Eric Felten, wrote an article on the drink almost three years ago.  He even dug up a fancy name for it, Gin Pahit.  I prefer its more traditional moniker, Pink Gin.  According to Felten, James Bond ordered one in the novel “The Man With the Golden Gun.”

The British Navy?  James Bond?  This is no wimpy pink drink.

Here is how it’s traditionally made:
Several dashes of Angostura bitters are shaken into a glass.
These are rolled around to coat the inside of the glass.
If you used too heavy a hand with the bitters, dump out the excess.
Pour in a 2 ounce slug of London Dry gin.  I swear by Tanqueray, especially in this drink.
And you are done.

Here is the kicker: Ice is optional.

If you want to be a traditionalist, there is no ice.  This is how I make it.  Although Felten would call me mad.  He highly recommends chilling down the drink, and straining it into a glass.  He doesn’t explicitly say this, but if you attempt to chill the drink, it should be stirred and not shaken.

To me, putting ice in a Pink Gin is like taking your LPs and converting them to MP3s and listening to them on your iPod.  Surely it sounds like a good idea given the prevailing wisdom of the time, but more than a little is lost in the translation.

It may take a while to get used to the idea of a room-temperature gin cocktail.  But let me assure you, on a cold fall evening after a heavy meal, it really hits the spot.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer permalink
    October 2, 2009 9:18 am

    I love your cocktail posts. I have a hard time with the wine posts, I think there’s an intimidation factor or something. But the cocktail posts always make me want to try one of whatever your drinking.

  2. cory marcus permalink
    October 2, 2009 11:22 am

    It hardly seems a cocktail at all with just 2 rather benign ingredients. But tasty all the same.

    ps. you are the ONLY blog I read regularly… or at all, really

  3. October 2, 2009 1:57 pm

    don’t ever order cocktails at Koto’s. Too sweet and they are ridiculously big!

  4. Raf permalink
    October 2, 2009 2:49 pm

    I think Plymouth gin would be the traditional choice here. Navy strength, of course.

  5. Mama Ass permalink
    October 2, 2009 7:49 pm

    Ohhh. I have both bitter and room temperature Tanqueray gin. Maybe I’ll try this later. I do love your cocktail posts. xoxo

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