For some gin fans, pink gin is a serious alternative to regular gin. Others just love the eye-catching bottles and mixing up a delicate rose-coloured Gin & Tonic in summer. Then there are the gin purists who think pink gin is a step too far away from classic styles.
So who’s right and just what is pink gin anyway?
What is pink gin?
Originally the term Pink Gin referred to a cocktail: a simple mix of Plymouth Gin and Angostura Bitters that became popular in England in the mid-19th century. If you want to make one at home, put 3-4 dashes of Angostura Bitters and 50ml of gin in a mixing glass or shaker with ice and stir well to chill and slightly dilute the gin. Strain into a chilled Martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
Today the term pink gin is used to describe gins that are infused with a range of botanicals – from rose and rhubarb, to strawberries, raspberries and red currants – to give a distinct flavour and a rosy hue.
How does pink gin taste?
Production methods and botanicals vary, so when it comes to flavour, you might get a very citrussy pink gin, made with pink grapefruit, a delicate floral one made with roses or a fruity one made with berries. The choice is yours…
Arguably the best pink gins are the ones that retain a dry, juniper character alongside the added pink botanical flavours. So you get that familiar gin hit when you pair them with tonic or use them in cocktails.
But there’s also plenty to be said for mixing a gently fruity G&T, garnished with fresh berries, on a sunny afternoon or for Valentine’s Day. Take your pick of both styles from our recommendations below…
Best pink gins to try
1689 Authentic Dutch Pink Gin
This very pale pink gin is a taste of history, based on a recipe from 1689, that uses juniper berries, quince, pippin, lemon, orange, nutmeg, aniseed and clove. One for adventurous gin drinkers, it offers bold aromas and flavours – spice and tropical fruit aromas blend with more typical pink gin notes of cherry, ripe strawberries and strawberry bonbons on the nose. With plenty of fruit and spice on the palate, it makes a memorable G&T. Alcohol 42%
Chapel Down Pinot Noir Gin
The perfect pink gin for wine lovers, this is distilled by English wine producer Chapel Down, which also makes a Chardonnay vodka. Made from distilled Pinot Noir grape skins and English wheat spirit, it’s infused with botanicals including coriander and rosehip. The pale pink hue comes from dried raspberries and strawberries. You’ll taste those berries on the deliciously creamy palate, along with clean citrus and plenty of juniper. Try it in a Tenterden Blush sparkling cocktail: 50ml of gin mixed with 50ml lemonade and topped with 25ml of Chapel Down Brut. Alc 41.2%
Chase Pink Grapefruit and Pomelo
Best known for its potato vodka and ‘field to bottle’ approach, Herefordshire farmers-turned-distillers Chase also make this zesty pink gin, which is distilled with pink grapefruit and pomelo peels. Packed with bold citrus aromas and flavours, it’s a zinger of a gin that delivers a sharp hit of grapefruit guaranteed to wake up your tastebuds. Pair with tonic and garnish with a slice of pink grapefruit. Alc 40%
Henley Gin, Rhubarb & Orange
A newcomer to the UK’s distilling scene, Henley Distillery took up residence in a restored threshing barn just outside Henley-on-Thames in 2021. Head distiller is Jacob Wilson, one of the youngest Master Distillers in the country, who produces a range of three small-batch Henley Gins: Classic Dry, Oriental Spiced and this pink Rhubarb & Orange. Pale onion-skin in colour, it has been layered with fresh orange zest and tart rhubarb to create a zesty, fruity, fresh and elegant gin. Notes of rhubarb and orange (as you’d expect) are joined by aromas of raspberry, fresh blackcurrant and Parma violet that carry through to the palate, where they join with a satisfying juniper hit and spice notes. An assured debut. Alc 42%
Mermaid Pink Gin
Queen Victoria liked to spend summers on the Isle of Wight and this eye-catching gin from the island’s distillery captures the spirit of a sunny seaside holiday. The signature Mermaid Gin is made with 10 ethically sourced botanicals including rock samphire, known locally as mermaid’s kiss. To make Mermaid Pink the team steep fresh island strawberries in gin for four days, then redistill. The result is a gin that’s laced with fresh strawberry notes, along with a salty ozone freshness – like eating strawberries and cream on the beach. Makes a fruity, fresh and creamy G&T. Alc 42%
Mirabeau Rosé Gin
The team behind the successful Mirabeau rosé wines range, make this elegant pink gin is inspired by, and infused with, the grapes and botanicals growing wild on their Provence estate. A base of grape spirit extracted from Mirabeau’s Forever Summer wine is combined with 12 botanicals including juniper, coriander seed, lemon peel, lavender, jasmine, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, iris root and angelica. They give an enveloping and fragrant florality on the nose, while the palate is lifted by citrus freshness and given an earthy touch by generous herbaceousness. There’s also an underlying soft sweetness from the addition of Mirabeau’s Provence rosé to the distillation. Refreshing and enjoyable to sip on its own, although a lemon peel garnish combined with a bitter tonic, or grapefruit juice, works well to amplify the herbal and floral characters while accenting the sweetness. Alc 43%
Salcombe Gin Rosé Sainte Marie
Devon’s Salcombe Distilling Co makes a range of excellent gins – including alcohol-free options – and its pink offering is no exception. Inspired by the South of France (Sainte Marie is a lighthouse in the old port of Marseille) it’s pale Provençal rosé pink in colour, with a floral, herbaceous nose: thyme and orange blossom hints plus red berry fruit. The silky and sophisticated palate has appealing notes of rose, plus a decent hit of juniper and a fresh herbaceous finish. Pair with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic for a summery, floral Gin & Tonic. Alc 41.4%
Silent Pool English Rose Gin
One for fans of floral gins, this heady gin reminds me of walking through a rose garden, but avoids being cloying thanks to its freshness and bone dry palate. As the name suggests, Surrey distillers Silent Pool infuse their gin with English rose petals, which creates really pretty aromatics of freshly picked roses, with a hint of violet too. The elegant palate flourishes with notes of rosewater and Turkish delight, followed by a crisp citrus finish. Simply one of the best rose gins out there. Mix it with Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic for a full-on flower-power G&T. Alc 42%