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a history of pink gin.

Posted by Kerri Blanden on

When we first released Coral Gin in May, it was our first foray into the realms of pink gin - a category of gin that is only growing in popularity. When the idea of turning it pink was first pitched in product development, we will not deny, there was a bit of an eye-roll among the team - pink gin in contemporary times has been known to be overtly sweet and artificial. While Coral Gin is definitely dissimilar and in contrast is saline over sweet, and coloured to reflect the reefs themselves (which you can read all about here), we were surprised to learn the history of pink gin was not so sweet at all.

In fact, it wasn't actually a gin, it was a gin cocktail. It's widely believed that this was an invention of the British Royal Navy, as a way to convince sailors to drink Angostura Bitters, which at the time was used as remedy for digestive problems and most commonly as a cure for sea sickness. Since Angostura Bitters is just that - incredibly bitter - it was added to Plymouth Gin, a not so dry style of English Gin, in a ratio of 1 shot of gin and 1 dash of angostura bitters, often times garnished with lemon rind. 

Pink gin. A glass of copper coloured bitters sits on a table in Applewood bar

Despite its lack of pink hue, leaning towards more copper tones, over the years it moved off the water and on to the mainland in England, where it became popular in bars and evolved from there. It started being served "in or out" - essentially if it was left in the gin or just used as a garnish for the glass before being poured out before the gin was added. Pink Gin and Tonics became popular and an entire new category of drinks began forming, long before the idea of distilling a pink gin had ever entered the collective conscious.

pink gin in a glass with tonic water and lots of ice sits on a table in Applewood bar



Jump cut to modern times and it seems that pink gin is almost a mandatory category - although for the most part flavour wise it has drifted away from the original, more often than not erring on the sweeter side, with common flavourings like strawberries and pink grapefruit - and it's definitely picked up in Australia. More often than not, the pink gins we are seeing produced on our shores are of exceptional quality, such as Poor Tom's Strawberry Gin, Manly Spirits Lilly Pilly Gin and Antipodes Pink Gin.

In our instance, we were excited to reflect a unique Australian landscape, the Great Barrier Reef, and the colour Coral was our inspiration, alongside the saline nature of the water itself. A salty but fruity style of gin without being inherently sweet. Pink gin is a category that feels like it's not slowing down anytime soon, only on the rise. While it seems its tradition has been left behind somewhat, hopefully the category is filled with more and more interesting approaches, something as diverse and inspiring as the dry gins produced in this country and beyond. 

coral pink gin is laying down on a salt lake. the shot is from above showing the beautiful pink colour of the gin.

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