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The pink gin craze is more popular than ever. These days there’s a good quality version for every palate, whether you prefer something tart or sweet. But what is pink gin? And what makes these rose-hued spirits different from regular clear gins, apart from the obvious?
Not to be confused with the cocktail of the same name (a Royal Navy invention from the 1800s made of rationed Plymouth gin and a dash of Angostura Bitters), modern day pink gins get their rosy hue from ingredients like rose petals, strawberries, grape skins, raspberries, and even rhubarb. These sweeter ingredients can usually downplay the dry, juniper-heavy, and bitter characters of a gin with smooth, sweet, and fruity notes. A perfect go-to for gin newcomers.
Just like other types of gins, the variation of pink gin flavors can be stark. And they’re not all created equal. Quality is everything when it comes to sifting through the hundreds of new rosy-hued gin bottles lining liquor store shelves. In the UK alone, there were at least 150 pink gins on the market in 2018 compared to fewer than five in 2013, according to gin specialist David T Smith. While some of these popular pink gins have been getting a bad rep for their high sugar content and smaller focus on juniper, there has also been also a new crop of luxury, high-quality pink gins all over the world, from the lavender fields of Provence to the craft distillers of Brooklyn, that pride themselves on natural flavors, innovative infusions, and craft distilling methods. These flavored gins can work wonderfully in a a rosé spritz or like their clear counterparts they can also work well in a G&T, martini, Negroni, gimlet, or any other refreshing summer cocktail, really. Just make sure you’re sipping it from a worthy vessel.
Wondering were to begin on your pink gin journey? Read on for the bottles that deserve a place on any discerning gin lover’s perfectly curated home bar cart.
Salcombe Rosé Sainte Marie, England
Fresh lemon peel, Provencal herbs and Macedonian juniper berries bring a taste of the Mediterranean coast to this subtle and elegant pink gin from England’s picturesque southern coast. Salcombe’s Rosé Sainte Marie is one of only two pink gins in the world to have been awarded Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The bottle’s named after the lighthouse in the Old Port of Marseille from where 19th-century Salcombe Fruit Schooners would load citrus fruits and herbs bound for England’s ports.
To buy: $50, Drizly.com
Mirabeau Dry Rosé Gin, France
Known for their crisp, clean, and “bone dry” rosés, Mirabeau’s (that’s “mira-bo”) first foray into the gin world is a treat for rosé fans. Founder Jeany Cronk told Departures that the idea for a pink gin came while separating the alcohol content for their vegan lower-alcohol rosé. Based in France’s perfume capital, Grasse, this beautifully packaged gin extracts Dior-worthy rose petals alongside all of the lovely botanicals found in the region like rosemary, jasmine, and lemon zest with the addition of some of the brand’s rosé wine, of course.
To buy: $50, thewhiskeyexchange.com Coming to the US May 2021
NYDC Dorothy Parker Rose Petal Gin, Brooklyn
Part of New York Distilling Co’s "Brooklyn Series" of limited edition gins featuring unique ingredients and one-off recipes, the Dorothy Parker Rose Petal Gin is a light and delicate twist on the brand’s original American gin. It’s made with red and pink rose petals, crushed elderberries, cinnamon bark, lemon peel, and orange peel which build on the gin’s existing citrus and hibiscus notes.
To buy: $30, astorwines.com
Malfy Gin Rosa, Italy
We’ll be sipping Malfy’s pink gin until we can jet off to the Italian coast. In terms of flavor, you’ll find no rose petals over here. Instead, Sicilian pink grapefruits, Italian lemons, anis and a hint of rhubarb give Malfy’s Gin Rosa a distinctly aperitif-approved take on pink gin. While this particular bottle is new, Malfy’s actually made in a historic distillery in Torino, an area famed for its production of fine wines and spirits—and the birthplace of gin—if you count the Italian monks who are thought to have used juniper berries as flavorings back in the 11th century.
To buy: $26, Flaviar.com
Hendrick's Midsummer Solstice, Scotland
Perhaps more of a lilac than a clear-cut pink, this small-batch flavored gin from Hendrick’s is a tribute to the Midsummer Solstice “when botanicals and flowers are believed to be at their most powerful” according to the Scottish brand. The result? A delightful floral gin with hints of rose and cucumber, which they recommend sipping outside on a warm summer day. Who are we to argue?
To buy: $42, Flaviar.com
Wölffer Estate Pink Gin, Long Island
You probably know Wölffer Estate for its crisp, cool bottles of rosé loved by the Hamptons crowd but did you know they also create non wine drinks too? Made in small batches, Wölffer Estate Vineyard has a fruit-forward gin that's made from their actual rosé wine. It’s the natural spirit for the vineyard to delve into, they’ve been growing their own juniper berries since 1996.
To buy: $30, Drizly.com
Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin, Australia
There's a good reason this ruby-hued gin made it into our 2020 Legend Awards for “The Best New Wines and Spirits on the Market”. And if you’ve yet to try it, what are you waiting for? Four Pillars takes its clear Rare Dry Gin and steeps it with local cool climate Shiraz grapes from Melbourne’s Yarra Valley vineyards to create a ruby colored gin which turns pink when mixed with soda. Like with wine vintages, each edition of the gin will also be different as the years roll by.
To buy: $40, Drizly.com