How The Pink Lady Cocktail Got Its Name

Pink Lady Cocktail

The Pink Lady is a popular classic gin-based cocktail with a rich history. This incredible drink became wildly famous during the early 1900s but soon fell from popularity as it started being linked with being a girly drink. However, the Pink Lady is nothing to mess with. Appearance can sometimes be deceiving, and this is the case with the Pink Lady cocktail. Fresh lemon juice plays along with the pomegranate-based grenadine, with the drink packing a two-spirit punch of gin and the applejack giving its attractive pink hue. This drink has a fantastic taste and will lay you out if prepared correctly. Read on for everything you need to know about the pink Lady cocktail, including how it got its name.


Similar to most Prohibition-era cocktails, this cocktail has an unclear history. The precise origin of the Pink Lady is not precisely known. Its invention is occasionally attributed to the prominent interior architect and society figure, Elsie de Wolfe. However, the recipe linked with her differs from the Pink Lady recipes. According to Vintage American Cocktails, this cocktail’s invention is most attributed as a solution to the unpleasant tasting cheap gin at that time. The frequently poor quality of gin may partly explain the popularity of Pink Lady during the prohibition era, which triggered the need to mask the sour taste of gins. Adding other ingredients such as lemon juice, brandy, and grenadine to the gin helped eliminate the unpleasant taste of the poor-quality gin available during those times.

The cocktail was already widely popular during the prohibition era around 1920 to 1933. In these years, the drink was very famous at the Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans, with the drink also known as the Pink Shimmy. Its high popularity was widely attributed to the assistant manager at the club known as Armond Schroeder. During the late 1930s, the Pink Lady began to get the manager’s image as a typical girly or female drink because of its name and its sweet creamy flavor customarily linked with a woman’s preferred taste, as stated in publications such as the Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts published in 1949. It was claimed that the sex symbol and Hollywood star, Jayne Mansfield, used to take a Pink Lady cocktail before meals. Later, the cocktail fell out of favor with most male critics’ cocktail enthusiasts, who were put off by its assumed female nature. The Pink Lady was a favorite to the high-society ladies from the 1930s to 1950s, with its negative reputation as a Girly drink solidified in 1951. Jack Townsend, a writer, and bartender, made speculations in his publication of the Bartender’s Book in 1951 that the pink non-threatening appearance of the Pink Lady appealed to women who had no experience in taking alcohol. However, Townsend didn’t underlook the potency of the drink, claiming the underlook ‘Lady’ packs quite a blow. The Pink Lady cocktail was on Esquire’s list of the worst cocktails at a particular time.

How Did the Pink Lady Cocktail Get Its Name?

Now that you understand the history of The Pink Lady cocktail, you probably wonder how the drink got its name. Invented in the early 1900s, this cocktail is sometimes said to be named after a Broadway show known as The Pink Lady. The term originated from the 1911 Broadway musical show by Ivan Caryll of the same name. The Pink Lady Cocktail is also said to be named in honor of the musical show star Hazel Dawn who was referred to as ‘The Pink Lady.’

The Pink Lady Recipe and Variations

the ingredients used in preparing the pink Lady cocktail to vary. However, the cocktail variations’ primary ingredients are gin, egg white, and grenadine. In most basic forms, the pink lady has just three ingredients. According to the Café Royal Cocktail Book, the 1937 edition, the Pink Lady cocktail is prepared with a tablespoon of grenadine, a glass of gin, and the egg white of one egg. The three ingredients are mixed, shaken, and strained in a glass. Lemon juice is also often added to the basic recipe of the cocktail. In this case, the Pink Lady becomes identical to the Clover Club cocktail, according to Some authors claim that the original or authentic pink lady is different from the Clover Club by adding applejack. This is what gives the Pink Lady its unique flavor. Another version of the Pink Lady is a creamier cocktail known as the Pink Shimmy. This version adds a sweet cream to its basic recipe and has been around from around the 1920s. The cream is not added to the basic Pink Lady Cocktail in other recipe versions. Instead, the cream substitutes the egg white, and sometimes lemon juice is also added. Usually, any of the cocktail versions’ ingredients are mixed and shaken over ice and then strained into a glass. The cocktail may also be garnished with a cherry.

Preparing The Classic Pink Lady


  • 1 ½ ounce London Dry gin
  • ½ ounce applejack
  • ¼ ounce grenadine
  • One egg white
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • Garnish: brandied cherry


1. Place all the ingredients into a shaker and dry shake vigorously (without ice).

2. Add some ice again and shake for a well-chilled mix

3. Strain the mix into a chilled cocktail glass

4. Garnish the cocktail using some brandied cherry

It would be best to opt for high-quality ingredients such as a craft grenadine and a London Dry gin when shaking up this cocktail. Also, like most egg-white-based cocktails, you should opt for a pasteurized egg and start by dry shaking your ingredients without ice to ensure the egg whites are well emulsified.

Bottom Line

I hope you now understand the origin and history of The Pink Lady cocktail and how it got its name. This drink tastes incredible and will lay you out when made right. While it’s seen as a girly cocktail, take one sip of it, and you will understand why you should take this nice-looking pink cocktail more seriously than its look. Therefore, if drinking a Pink Lady is girly, I should be counted among the ladies.

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