Pink Lady

Pink Lady

Appearances can be deceiving, and such is the case with the Pink Lady: Freshly squeezed lemon juice plays alongside pomegranate-based grenadine, and the drink packs a two-spirit punch of gin and applejack that belies its pretty pink hue.  

Like many Prohibition-era cocktails, the Pink Lady has an ambiguous history: Its invention was likely a solution to the cheap gin that marked the age; adding other ingredients like brandy, lemon juice, and grenadine helped to mask the unpleasant flavour of the poor-quality spirits available at the time. The Pink Lady became a favourite of high-society ladies from the 1930s to the 1950s, and its reputation as a “girly” order was perhaps solidified in the 1951 title The Bartender’s Book, by Jack Townsend, the president of New York’s bartender’s union: “Why, surely you know her,” Townsend wrote of the typical Pink Lady imbiber. “She's that nice little girl who works in files, who's always so courteous but always seems so timid…Naturally you never expected to see her at a bar. She gets into one about twice a year, at Christmas time or some other high old time.” Sexism aside, Townsend didn’t underestimate the drink’s potency: “Just why she picks the Pink Lady for these occasions—since the Lady packs quite a wallop—remains a mystery, even to her perhaps,” he continued. 

These quotes might not have aged well, but the grenadine-tinged twist on a Gin Sour certainly has, thanks to a perfect mix of boozy ingredients and softening flavors. Gin lends botanical notes that pair well with the tart lemon juice, while a splash of applejack, also known as apple brandy, plays off the grenadine’s fruitiness and helps fortify the drink. A bit of grenadine pulls double duty, sweetening the cocktail while also giving it its namesake hue. Lastly, shaking the drink with an egg white creates a silky texture and a frothy top that only adds to this Lady’s classic good looks. If it seems familiar, you might have in mind the similarly pre-Prohibition Clover Club, which calls for raspberry syrup instead of grenadine and omits the applejack. 

When you’re shaking up a Pink Lady, opt for high-quality ingredients like a good London Dry gin and a craft grenadine (you might even make your own). As is the case with most egg-white cocktails, you’ll want to use pasteurised eggs and dry-shake your ingredients first without ice to emulsify the egg whites. 

One sip, and you’ll understand why this pretty pink cocktail is more serious than it appears.

  • 1 1/2 ounces London Dry gin
  • 1/2 ounce applejack
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 ounce grenadine
  • 1 egg white
  • Garnish: brandied cherry
  1. Add all ingredients into a shaker and vigorously dry-shake (without ice).
  2. Add ice and shake again until well-chilled.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with a brandied cherry.


Be the first to comment:

Login to comment: