Pink cocktails have been around since before you were born. Pink Gin (gin and bitters)—perhaps the most famous, and potent, of the rosy-hued classic drinks—originated with the British Royal Navy (Angostura bitters were discovered as a cure for sea sickness in the early 19th century) as early as the mid-1800s. Then, of course, there’s the slew of grenadine-spiked drinks that found favor on through the first half of the 20th century, like the Monkey Gland, the Jack Rose and the Clover Club. Despite modern preconceptions about the color, many of these classic pink drinks were about power and proof.
In fact, the Pink Lady—a drink that is said to have originated during Prohibition, when grenadine was often used to mask poorly-made gin—bucks those preconceptions on its own. Essentially a Gin Sour kicked up with grenadine and fortified with applejack, this is one of the more deceptively strong drinks in the classic canon. Ditto on Brad Farran’s Barrymore Room, a modern variation on the Clover Club that takes notions of frilliness head-on with a semi-ironic blend of strawberries and bourbon. Perhaps the most deceptive of all, though, is Richard Boccato’s Archangel, a drink that combines a hefty dose of gin with Aperol and some muddled cucumbers, for what is a cooling, but boozy afternoon-killer.
But a drink, pink or not, does not need to be strong to be serious.
Tom Michter’s PFT, a more modern play on the Gin Sour template—a simple mix of gin, Campari, lime and simple syrup—is case-in-point. Just try and drink less than three. Joaquín Simó’s La Bomba Daiquiri takes the classic daiquiri template, but subtly plays tribute to those classic grenadine-sweetened drinks with the addition of pomegranate molasses (and a grip of raspberries for good measure). It’s one of the more addictive modern takes on the drink.
Point is, pink drinks are not just TV props meant to telegraph a certain frilly ’90s-ness. Here are five rose-colored cocktails that prove that pink means business.