The Pink Lady cocktail proves that you shouldn’t judge a drink by its color. Despite its ‘girly’ hue, this pink drink is a sophisticated sipper that’s more dry than sweet. Try our easy recipe and make the classic cocktail at home in just five minutes.
Drinking pink poses challenges for lazy mixologists who like sophisticated sippers. As we learned while researching whimsically colored cocktails, not all pink cocktails are created equal.
Many pink drinks are cloyingly sweet. Others have complicated recipes that require blenders and lots of ingredients. These don’t work for us since we’re not fans of the ‘girly drink’ category of cocktails and we don’t like cleaning up messes.
We were pleased as punch once we discovered the Pink Lady cocktail. A less acidic version of the Clover Club, the Pink Lady is pleasantly pink, easy to craft and just the right level of sweet.
Pink Lady Cocktail History
The Pink Lady will sound familiar to Generation X’ers like us who grew up singing along with the Pink Ladies in Grease. We’d love to say the the drink and movie are related; however, the classic cocktail predates the musical movie by quite a few decades.
We’d also love to share a juicy story about how and where the drink was invented but there isn’t one that we can verify. While drink historians trace the Pink Lady back to the early 20th century, there’s no definitive origin story for this particular pre-prohibition cocktail.
After we show you how to craft this cocktail, it’s up to you to create your own Pink Lady story. Consider it a blank slate. Or, in this case, a pink slate.
Pink Lady Cocktail Ingredients
The Pink Lady fits our cocktail sweet spot with a short list of ingredients that can be counted on one hand. These are the only required ingredients:
Beyond its short list of ingredients that you probably already have in your home bar, the Pink Lady has an equally short list of required bar tools. You probably have them too. All you need is a cocktail shaker, jigger and measuring spoon.
Though not required, we recommend using a separate cocktail strainer to facilitate a cleaner pour and a bar spoon to get all of the foam out of the shaker. We also recommend using a silver cocktail pick for a classy touch.
Discover 10 necessary bar tools for lazy mixologists.
Since dry gin is the Pink Lady’s primary ingredient, we recommend using a quality gin in this recipe. We like to use Citadelle dry gin from France to craft our pink drinks. This premium gin has 19 botanicals and comes in a pretty blue bottle.
Discover our favorite gin cocktails.
Monin produces our preferred grenadine. Also from France, Monin doesn’t add any artificial colors or flavors to its bright red pomegranate syrup. It’s the next best thing to using grenadine made from scratch.
Buy a bottle of Monin grenadine syrup from Amazon.
How to Craft a Pink Lady Cocktail
If you have five minutes then you have enough time to craft a Pink Lady cocktail from scratch. Our recipe is that fast and easy.
The first step is to measure two ounces of gin. We recommend using a cocktail jigger for this step.
The second step is to measure a 1/2 teaspoon of grenadine. In this recipe, a little bit of grenadine goes a long way.
The third step is to separate an egg white. We’re comfortable with using a raw egg white. You can use a pasteurized egg white instead if you’re concerned about ingesting raw eggs.
Now comes the fun. It’s time to shake things up two different ways…
First comes a dry shake without ice to combine the ingredients and emulsify the egg white. After adding ice, more shaking ensues.
Voila. After shaking two ways, all that’s left is straining the cocktail into a small martini glass and adding a maraschino cherry or three. We like to skewer our cherries on a silver cocktail pick but the pick isn’t mandatory.
Last, we splash a bit of maraschino cherry syrup into our Pink Lady cocktail. Even though we’re not into ‘girly’ sweet drinks, the original Pink Lady recipe is a bit flat for our personal tastes and the cherry syrup adds a fruity, acidic zip.
Pink Lady Cocktail Variations
The ingredients in our Pink Lady drink recipe honor the original recipe and the one that appeared in the 1937 Cafe Royal Cocktail Book. However, you may want to mix things up by trying one of the following variations:
Pink Lady FAQs
The Pink Lady cocktail is a pink pre-prohibition cocktail crafted with gin, grenadine syrup and an egg white.
Dry Gin, Grenadine Syrup, Egg White, Maraschino Cherries (garnish) and Ice (for shaking)
Grenadine syrup adds both color and sweetness to the Pink Lady Cocktail.
You should use your favorite gin in this cocktail recipe. We typically use Citadelle gin but any dry gin will work just fine.
No. You can replace the egg white with pasteurized egg white or aquafaba if you’re concerned about ingesting raw eggs.
The Pink Lady is shaken, not stirred.
We like to serve this cocktail in a small martini glass but you could use a coupe glass instead.
Pink Lady Cocktail Recipe
Don’t just think pink. After you follow our Pink Lady cocktail recipe you can drink pink too.
Be aware that the Pink Lady is as strong as a martini. But, since it’s pink, it’s more fun to drink.
Pink Lady Cocktail
Think pink when you drink a Pink Lady cocktail. The classic gin sipper is both classic and fun.
- 2 ounces gin
- 1/2 teaspoon Grenadine
- 1 egg white
- 1 maraschino cherry
- ice cubes
- Combine gin, grenadine and egg white in a shaker.
- Shake vigorously until ingredients are mixed and egg white emulsifies.
- Add several ice cubes and shake again until the liquid is chilled.
- Strain into a small martini glass.
- Add a maraschino cherry as garnish and splash a bit of cherry syrup into the cocktail.
- You can use a pasteurized egg white if you're not comfortable using a fresh egg white.
- Feel free to add additional maraschino cherries. We sometimes put three on a silver cocktail pick.
- You can use a coupe glass if you don't have a small martini glass.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: February 12, 2021
Monday 3rd of October 2022
For the Pink Lady cocktail, can vodka be substituted instead of gin?
Daryl and Mindi Hirsch
Wednesday 19th of October 2022
You can make any changes that you want. However, it won't be an official Pink Lady cocktail with vodka. Perhaps you should call it a Pink Maria cocktail instead. Let us know how it turns out.