In Defense of Red Cocktails

Contributed by

I was recently sitting at a bar enjoying one of my favorite cocktails when suddenly the evening was derailed. From behind me, in a booming voice, I heard: “Pink drinks are for girls!”

I turned around to face Bud the Beefcake Frat Boy, who had seen my tasty Negroni. Now on the defensive, I quickly retorted, “actually, it’s a classic cocktail that’s made of nothing but spirits and vermouth. It’s three fine alcohols stirred in a glass and quite a potent concoction.” (Retelling this story now, I realize that I may as well have spoken in Greek.)

Bud continued to elaborate on his feelings about “wussy drinks,” which is what he had now taken to calling them. (He must have felt he was sounding a little sexist before.) “If it ain’t brown or clear, it ain’t worth drinking,” he informed me.

Why I decided to pick a battle I could surely never win, I am not sure. But now in the ring, I had to fight back. I hit him with the toughest crimson concoction I know of: The Pink Gin. When mixed to historic specs, it’s simply warm Plymouth Navy Strength Gin (a whopping 114 proof) and a few dashes of Angostura Bitters. They really don’t come stronger than that.

My argument wasn’t as devastating as I hoped. Bud gave me a blank stare and ordered a light beer.

While his delivery left something to be desired, he did have a point: fuchsia drinks usually get pigeonholed. Thanks to Sex and the City, if you’re holding a cocktail with a red hue, people will more often than not assume you’re drinking a Cosmo.

But many of my frequent tipples are scarlet, from the Singapore Sling and Clover Club to The Jack Rose Cocktail. All of these drinks are both pinkish and serious.

Take that, Bud!

The Pink Gin

Contributed by Simon Ford


Add the bitters to a cocktail glass, roll to coat the inside and discard any excess. Add the gin, and fill with ice if desired.

The Jack Rose Cocktail

Contributed by Simon Ford


  • 2 oz Applejack
  • 1 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz Grenadine
  • Garnish: Lime wheel
  • Glass: Coupe or cocktail

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.


Simon Ford is an award-winning bartender and director of trade outreach and brand education for Pernod Ricard USA. He is also a advisor.

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  • World Traveler posted 7 years ago

    I saw a rather large, physically-fit grown man fall off a bar stool in Raffles (Singapore) after his third sling. I managed to keep my footing with the same amount, and I'm a 125 pound woman!

  • The Wendl posted 7 years ago

    Wait, what? He was attacking your masculinity due to a drink's color (and not being in a 'manly' glass)??? And yet he ordered a "Light Beer"?!?! There are no words.
    Hey - if cocktails of light hue were good enough for William Powell's "Nick Charles", I have NO reason to question a man's choice of classy beverage.
    My manly man who is a former Marine (12 years of proud service) is quite the afficionado of quality cocktails. His view: kill his brain cells with dignity.
    I'm a veteran of 2 Tales of the Cocktail events in New Orleans, which has really done a number on my cocktail consumption - in that I would rather drink less, because I drink the best. :)
    I say (much like pink shirts on men) it takes a truly confident man to drink a cocktail. The frat daddy probably had to down his light beer fast so that he could go back and put his girlfriend's lingerie back in her drawer after he finished 'feeling pretty' in it. ;)

  • daniel posted 7 years ago

    negroni please...

  • Jim Parker posted 7 years ago

    One of my current favorites is the Satan Cocktail out of the 1948 edition of Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide: 1 1/2 ounces bourbon, dash of Italian vermouth, dash of absinthe and three dashes of Peychaud's bitters. Wussy indeed!

  • Men For Campari posted 7 years ago

    My masculinity was questioned in much the same manner. I don’t recall if I was drinking a Manhattan or Martini, but the cocktail glass was the evidence of my missing manhood. Questioning whether the ruffian frat boy understood the contents of my glass he simply stated that, "it didn’t matter I needed to man up and drink a Scotch & Coke like him”. At this point I realized that logic was not going to win this argument, so I enlisted the help of the striking bartendress. She began mocking my poor adversary for bastardizing a respectable Scotch with cola. Ah, memories! As for pink drinks, the Jasmine and Negroni are excellent cocktails. I would also like to add the Old Pal and the Petruchio to the mix.

  • Chris posted 7 years ago

    Last season- we had a man order a strawberry daiquiri- and my cocktailer eyeballed him.. lol (I work a service bar) after he had a drink of it he complained he couldn't taste the alcohol!!! Max totally busted him- told him in front of his buddies that if he wanted to taste the booze he shouldn't be ordering a DAIQUIRI for cripe's sake!!! His buddies all razzed him good after that.. and my wussiest drink I make is brown.. a truffletini with low proof and lots of sugar and fat.
    Light beer?? And he claims manliness from that? See if he could hang with one of my Patron margatinis..

  • Chad in STL posted 7 years ago

    I used to get this ALL THE TIME when making a Jasmine, or Negroni or even a Blood and Sand. Good stuff Simon. Funny, I also used the Pink Gin as a retort just a few weeks ago. I ended up drinking it myself, as you probably did!

  • The Martini Diva posted 7 years ago

    Love the defense of the pink drink, thank you. I wonder just how many people have gotten totally schnockered on what they considered "girly" drinks because that rosy drink went down so easy and appeared so harmless.

    Like women, these "wussy" cocktails can be surprisingly dangerous if not treated with respect.


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