The Basics History & Trends

In Defense of Red Cocktails

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


  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 2 oz Plymouth Navy Strength Gin (or regular Plymouth Gin)
  • Glass: Cocktail


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.