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Under the Influence: A History of Pink Gin

Discover the history of this pink drink and how its origins inspired the recipe for Barry Island Pink Dry Gin.

The first thing that'll spring to most minds when asked about pink gin is a type of gin that is infused with red fruits, such as raspberries (as is the case with Barry Island Pink Gin), strawberries, or cherries. This gives the gin a light pink colour and a sweet, fruity flavour.

But where did it come from and why was it created? The origins behind this pink spirit were the (g)inspiration behind the approach we took when developing Barry Island Pink Gin so why not pour yourself a pink G&T and read on to discover the colourful history of pink gin...

Pink Gin's History

The history of pink gin is not entirely clear. Originally a classic cocktail made with dry gin, Angostura bitters, and ice, and is typically garnished with a lemon twist. It is believed that pink gin was first created by British sailors in the Royal Navy in the 18th or early 19th century.

At the time, sailors were often plagued by seasickness. To help combat this, they were given a mixture of gin and Angostura bitters. The bitters were thought to help settle the stomach, and the gin helped to make the bitters more palatable. The combination of gin and bitters quickly became popular among sailors, and it soon spread to the general public.

By the late 19th century, pink gin was a popular cocktail in England. It was often served at high-class gatherings, and it was even featured in some popular novels of the time including The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1895), The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925), The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926).

In the early 20th century, pink gin's popularity began to decline. However, it experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 1990s and the popularity of this pink drink continues to grow and it has since become a global trend.

According to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), 66 million bottles of pink gin were sold in the UK in 2020. This represents a 41% increase from the previous year.

Getting (g)Inspired

After we'd launched the original Barry Island Dry Gin we were asked more and more about when we were going to produce a pink gin. The pink gin market is largely made up of sweetened and artificially coloured gins which wasn't a route we wanted to go down. So when were were developing the recipe for Barry Island Pink Gin we took inspiration from the drinks origins.

Whilst sat in our garden on Barry Island mulling over what botanicals we could use we noticed our rosemary plant was covered in beautiful blue flowers which the bees were loving. As Angostura bitters are made with herbs and spices, we thought using rosemary in our gin would be a great reflection of the original pink gin cocktail's ingredients.

Later that day we were walking our dog Darcy around the seafront at Whitmore Bay (the main beach on Barry Island) and noticed loads of Rosemary growing up around the coastal cliff paths - so that was decided! Taking inspiration from our natural surroundings and the naval history of the classic cocktail we developed the recipe of our unique and unsweetened Welsh dry pink gin.

Pink Gin Cocktails

Barry Island Pink Gin is a versatile drink that can be enjoyed with tonic water or lemonade or used in a variety of cocktails. Here's some of our favourite pink gin cocktails:

  • The Pink Gin Martini: This classic cocktail is made with gin, dry vermouth, and a splash of pink grapefruit juice.

  • The Pink Gin Negroni: This Italian cocktail is made with gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.

  • The Pink Gin Collins: This refreshing cocktail is made with gin, lemon juice, sugar, and club soda.

  • The Pink Gin Fizz: This light and airy cocktail is made with gin, lemon juice, egg white, and club soda.

  • The Pink Gin Spritz: This refreshing Italian cocktail is made with pink gin, prosecco, and Aperol.

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