Here’s Why (and Where) People Are Drinking Pink Gin in London
London’s really got a taste for pink gin. So much so that one tipple, Gordon’s Pink – launched in summer 2017 by our friends over at Diageo – turned out to be the most successful UK spirits launch of the decade. You’ll have noticed the pink gin boom if you’ve stopped by any good bar in London these past couple of months. But why do people love it so much?
Pink gin looks sexy
Most in the gin biz agree that pink gin is popular not necessarily because of how it tastes, but more how it looks. Pink gin looks great on Instagram and millennials – the main target market of the the 150 or so pink gins now available – like to take pictures of their drinks when they’re out. In a nutshell: pink gin is sexy.
And it’s oh so sweet
Sexiness aside, the taste of pink gin does still count for something. It’s much, much sweeter than traditional gin, meaning its general appeal is wider and you can mix it with more stuff.
In traditional gin, things like juniper, coriander seed, cardamom and fruit peels are used to create a typically dry, spicy and bitter spirit. In pink gin, meanwhile, sugar and flavours from fruits like raspberries, strawberries, cherries or rhubarb are also added to create a far sweeter spirit.
Where has pink gin suddenly come from?
Pink Gin is actually the name of a traditional British cocktail. In the 1800s, bitters were given to sailors in the Royal Navy as a treatment for sea sickness, but the problem was the bitters tasted awful on their own. The solution? Add gin. The combination of the two produced the Pink Gin cocktail and by the time the 1800s were coming to an end it had flowed from the high seas and into the glasses of the general public.
The Pink Gin cocktail has faded somewhat from the spotlight these days – which is why you probably haven’t seen it on too many London cocktail menus – and so the big drinks manufacturers noticed a chance to get involved and start a new craze with new, very sellable pink gin. The craze went on from there.
The best London bars for pink gin
We gave our view on the current best bars in London a few weeks back, but where’s best to drink pink gin? You’ll find it in plenty of places, from bars dedicated to gin right through to Sunday pubs serving food. Here’s our top three:
1. The Princess Victoria
Originally built in 1829 as a lavish gin palace, The Princess Victoria in Shepherd’s Bush honours its rich gin history by serving over 100 types. Some of which are pink. Two Tiptree gins are stocked here, the strawberry one and the English damson one, then there’s the Pinkster that’s infused with fresh raspberries. Also look out for Sharish Blue Magic. It looks all traditional in the bottle but turns pink when you add tonic. Spooky.
Address: 217 Uxbridge Road, London, W12 9DH
If you head out west to Notting Hill then you’ll find a further 100 types of gin at GinTonica. It’s on the first floor of The Distillery – home of Portobello Road Gin – and serves Spanish small plates alongside its tipples. These tipples are always served in a traditional Spanish copa de balon (a 21oz glass goblet) to make your pink gin G&T look like an enormous, icey crystal ball.
Address: 186 Portobello Road, London, W11 1LA
3. The London Gin Club
This Soho gem is dedicated to the simple enjoyment of gin. This means you’ll find the most interesting and on-trend pink gins behind the bar, among the 350 or so bottles from right across the gin world. The pink gins are subject to availability but try and catch the jasmine and rose gin by Bloom, or the Rhubarb Triangle by That Boutique-y Gin Company. The London Gin Club even stocks one bottle that’s delicately infused with pomelo. This place opened over 80 years ago and today runs regular gin tasting sessions so the pros that work here can share their gin-y knowledge.
Address: (The Star) 22 Great Chapel Street, W1F 8FR