There is no such thing as a “girly” drink. There are sweet drinks, bitter drinks, fruity drinks and stiff drinks, but the gender of a drink will always be fluid. Even pink drinks (which the unimaginative are quick to label as “girly”) are just that — pink. Just as colour is not indicative of gender, it’s also fairly divorced from flavour.
If you enjoy of martinis or Manhattans, you probably have a couple of bottles of vermouth on your bar cart. If you're a lover of a fancy aperitif, you probably have more. These fortified wines are a lot of fun but, due to their lower ABV, they don't last forever.
This is all just to say that pink drinks are for everyone. Whether you like your spirits clear or dark, your drinks fruity or boozy, or your glassware stemmed or flat-bottomed, there’s a pink drink out there for you, my friend.
Not very sweet at all: Use bittersweet liqueurs
Campari and Aperol are Italian herbal liqueurs with brilliant, aggressively pink hues. Campari is a little more on the herbaceous and bitter side, with a burnt orange flavour that holds its own against a strong spirit. Aperol is a little sunnier, a little sweeter, and a little more approachable if you’re just easing into the pool of amaro.
Kinda sweet: Muddle in fruit
Fruity drinks are not the same as sweet drinks. Strawberries, for example, run the gamut from ripe and sweet to quite tart, and muddling one in to any clear spirit gives your drink a hit of acid unlike what you’d normally get from a lemon. Also, have you met pink grapefruit? That bracing beauty is more sour and bitter than sweet.
The blood orange, however, is my favourite romantically hued cocktail fruit. You can squeeze it into any cocktail that calls for orange juice, or you can chuck it into a jar of vermouth (even the oxidised stuff), and use both the fruit and infused booze to create delicately sweet, visually arresting beverages.
Delightfully sweet: Shake in jam
As I have mentioned before, jam is an underrated cocktail ingredient, and there are a ton of flavours that add fruity goodness along with pretty pinkness.
Strawberry rhubarb is great with gin, sweet cherry is brilliant with bourbon, and red raspberry is tart enough to create a kind of cosmo-like situation when paired with vodka and fresh lime. (Not sure how much jam to use? Start with three tablespoons for every 60ml of spirit, and add lemon juice to taste.)
Also, don’t be afraid to mix and match. A blood orange Negroni made with infused vermouth is a lot of fun, as is an Italian Greyhound, which combines two of my favourite things — Campari and grapefruit juice. All are beautiful, all are delicious, and all are pretty in pink.