How The Pink Lady Cocktail Dressed Up The Cheap Gin Of Prohibition

Pink lady cocktail with cherry garnish
Pink lady cocktail with cherry garnish - Bhofack2/Getty Images

During the era of Prohibition in the United States, creativity with cocktails thrived in the underground speakeasies. In this clandestine world, where bootlegged liquor flowed freely, a beverage emerged that would become an enduring symbol of sophistication and elegance — the pink lady. Born out of necessity, this delicate pink-hued drink not only masked the rough edges of the cheap and often impure gin, but its smooth taste also made it a standout choice. The pink lady's popularity soared, finding its place in the cocktail repertoire of the era alongside classics like the martini and the Manhattan.

The pink lady is a simple concoction — a combination of ingredients creates a tart and slightly sweet drink with a creamy texture from the frothy egg white, coming together to effortlessly elevate the quality of the gin. With the scarcity of legal alcohol and the prevalence of bootlegged spirits of dubious quality, gin, in particular, was often harsh and unpalatable. However, when combined with the other ingredients in the pink lady, the gin's rough edges were smoothed out, allowing its botanical flavors to shine without overpowering the drink. Furthermore, its elegant presentation, with a frothy pink head and a delicate citrus aroma, added to its allure. In an era marked by rebellion and indulgence, this cocktail provided a sophisticated option for those seeking luxury amid the chaos of Prohibition.

Read more: 23 Cocktails To Try If You Like Drinking Gin

A Cocktail's Story Of Disguise

Pink lady cocktail with shaker
Pink lady cocktail with shaker - 5PH/Shutterstock

So, let's break down the ingredients of the pink lady. Most importantly, gin, while the base of the drink, plays a supporting role. Applejack or apple brandy adds smoothness and a touch of sweetness, masking the gin's rough edges. The tartness of lemon juice provides a necessary counterpoint to the sweetness, balancing the flavor profile. Grenadine gives the drink its signature pink hue and masks the intense flavors of gin with its fruity notes. Finally, egg whites — shaken with the other ingredients — create a luxurious froth that further mellows the harshness of the gin.

Despite its original popularity, the pink lady experienced a decline in the latter half of the 20th century as tastes shifted and new cocktail trends emerged. However, its revival in recent years has cemented its status as a classic cocktail. Bartenders and enthusiasts alike have rediscovered the charm of this timeless drink, experimenting with variations and reinterpretations. The pink lady isn't just a cocktail, rather it's a statement — a symbol of glamour and indulgence in a time of restrictions. So, the next time you sip on this fabulous cocktail, raise a glass not just to its deliciousness but also to its clever history, a story of disguise and delight.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.