Pink Lady Cocktail

12 Fascinating Facts About Pink Lady Cocktail

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The Pink Lady is a gin-based cocktail with a light pink hue that has delighted drinkers since the 1930s. Despite its delicate appearance, this drink packs a punch thanks to ingredients like gin, grenadine, egg whites, and citrus.

The Pink Lady has an intriguing backstory and has evolved over the decades into the refreshing, frothy drink we know and love today. Here are 12 fascinating facts you need to know:

1. The Pink Lady Was Created During Prohibition

Like many classic cocktails, the Pink Lady came about during Prohibition in the 1920s and early 1930s. As gin was relatively easy to produce illegally, “bathtub gin” became common during this time. The Pink Lady was essentially created to make questionable homemade gin taste better with added sweet and citrusy flavors.

2. It May Have Originated from a Famous NYC Bartender

One of the earliest-known references to the Pink Lady is found in Harry Craddock’s “The Savoy Cocktail Book” from 1930. Craddock was a famous bartender at the legendary Savoy Hotel in New York City. He claims the Pink Lady was created by another bartender named Eddie Woelke during Prohibition at the Hotel Sherman in Chicago.

3. Pink Was Seen as a Masculine Color in the Early 1900s

It may come as a shock, but pink was seen as a masculine color at the beginning of the 20th century. This helps explain why early drinkers didn’t view the Pink Lady as a feminine cocktail the way some do today. For the first few decades, it was seen as suitable for men and women alike.

Pink Lady Cocktail

4. It’s Been Known by Other Names

In addition to the Pink Lady, this cocktail has been called “The Secret Cocktail.” According to drink historian Ted Haigh, bartenders started calling it this in the 1950s and 1960s to “rehabilitate its reputation.” The name refers to the drink being a secret favorite among ladies who were thought to only drink lighter cocktails.

5. The Pink Lady Has Literary Ties

Famous crime writer Raymond Chandler had his iconic character Philip Marlowe order a Pink Lady in his book “The Long Goodbye.” This reference gave the drink some street credit and associations with detective stories and film noir aesthetics.

6. There’s Confusion Between the Cocktail and Pink Gin Spirit

These days, there’s often confusion over the Pink Lady cocktail versus pink gin. They originated separately, with pink gin coming about decades later. While the Pink Lady cocktail can be made with a quality pink gin, the two drinks should not be used interchangeably.

7. Modern Versions Forgo Raw Eggs Due to Safety Concerns

Recipes for the Pink Lady from the mid-20th century call for raw egg whites to give the drink its foamy texture. However, raw eggs became a safety concern in later decades. Most modern Pink Lady recipes use pre-pasteurized egg whites or omit eggs altogether, replacing them with cream or milk.

8. The Cocktail World Has Tried to Rebrand It

In the early 2000s, cocktail experts tried rebranding the Pink Lady as “The Secret Cocktail” to shed its outdated image. They hoped to renew interest by giving the drink an air of coded mystery. While the new name didn’t stick, the effort did bring more positive attention to this classic.

Pink Lady Cocktail

9. The Pink Lady Has Inspired Many Variations

From the Pink Poodle to the Pink Squirrel, many cocktails have put unique spins on the Pink Lady template. Popular riffs include using vodka or rum instead of gin, swapping in flavors like chocolate or coconut, or experimenting with different fruit purees. The core template lends itself well to creative reinterpretations.

10. There Are References to It in Pop Culture

In addition to classic detective novels, the Pink Lady has shown up in movies like “Palm Springs,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” and “A Simple Favor.” Musicals like “Legally Blonde” and TV series such as “Mad Men” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” have also featured or referenced the iconic cocktail.

11. Professional Bartenders Are Putting New Spins on It

Many professional mixologists and bartenders have elevated the Pink Lady with gourmet ingredients. Some award-winning versions use craft gins, specialized bitters, citrus caviar, edible flowers, or activated charcoal to give delightful visual and flavor contrasts.

12. Its Popularity Seems to Be Making a Comeback

While the Pink Lady fell out of favor for a few decades, the nostalgic cocktail is making a comeback in the 21st century. Along with other old-school drinks, its appearance on cocktail menus is steadily increasing again thanks to the rise of vintage cocktails and cocktail culture.

The Pink Lady wonderfully encapsulates the story of how cocktails reflect the tastes and perspectives of different eras. This delicate yet strong drink continues delighting a new generation with its timeless flavor profile and charming backstory.

So next time you see a Pink Lady on the menu, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for its place in cocktail history. Sip this gorgeous pink drink and taste the fascinating evolution for yourself.


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