Raiding Mommy’s Liquor Cabinet

Raiding Mommy’s Liquor Cabinet: Pink Lady

Here at Hollywood and Wine, I’m forever questing after all things vintage. In this new segment, I’m digging into the past by looking at some vintage cocktails. We’re raiding mommy’s liquor cabinet so you don’t have to!

Today’s recipe comes straight from the Mad Men era, being posted in a 1968 recipe book.

The Pink Lady is a little drink with a surprisingly long history. Despite its name, it isn’t a “sexy” nostalgic favorite, fading into the background in a sea of Manhattans, Old Fashions and Gin Martinis.

A quick Google of the drink’s history ties the drink back to the Prohibition era in some form. In fact, the Pink Lady is mentioned in the 1937 comedy Topper.

Once you venture back 80 years, the mixtures and stories begin to get a little muddled.

The drink’s rise seems most apparent between Prohibition and the 1950s. Much is written emphasizes its status as a ladies drink. A Wall Street Journal article: “This Lady is Tart in Taste” details that actress Jayne Mansfield loved the cocktail, mixing herself one every day before dinner. It’s difficult to get much more traditionally (and superficially) feminine than the curvaceous actress.

Perhaps even more fascinating is the fall from grace which followed. As the 1960s progressed, the Pink Lady dropped out of favor, with the reason cited as male cocktail enthusiasts rejecting the femininity of the drink. “I mean, what man drinks a pink cocktail?!”. (🙄) As someone who enjoys looking at gender and sexuality during the mid-twentieth century, I’ll be writing more on this soon!

Now, let’s get to mixing this sucker. Looking at the recipe I used, it’s not quite the standard. It’s close, but is actually missing Applejack Brandy… never mind that I don’t have any. There are also a number of recipes which omit the cream and lemon. In fact, the omission of cream seems to be an older iteration! That being said, look for me to rerun this with the other version of this recipe in the near future! Much, much more to come.

This drink was a fun one to mix. The alcohol you need for this one is gin! I used a fairly basic brand… I have a baby bar… and didn’t taste a problem with it. Grenadine is the other thing you have to think about, but I bought that at Target.

Once I managed to get passed the concern…worry….hell, paranoia about putting the egg white into the drink, it ended up being a relatively straight-forward concoction. Everything combines together in a shaker… I got mine at Target… and shake away! I probably over shook… like I said, egg white. However, it didn’t take much longer than described to get it ready and strained into the glass above. Voila! Yes… I know, not the right glass. I’m working on that!

Anyway, I really liked it!! Taking the first few sips, I was expecting it to be a heck of a lot sweeter than it was. A word that is constantly used to describe the Pink Lady is balance, and that feels exactly right. The cream seems to temper things down a bit, both toning down the pang of the gin while tempering the sweetness of the grenadine. Taking a drink, if felt like a nice calm, dry taste with the slightest twinge of sweetness at the very end. Co-tasters who are fans of sweet, liqueur, cream-based drinks were surprised how much they enjoyed the drink!

Take a pass at this recipe (if you’re legal, of course!) and let me know how it comes together.