Purple drink with orange slices and mint
What Gives Purple Gin Its Iconic Hue?
By Jennifer Waldera
Purple gin’s popularity has risen over the last several years, but the variety that's attracted a lot of attention is made with an ingredient that creates a seemingly magical color-changing effect when other ingredients are mixed with it: butterfly pea blossoms. Native to Southeast Asia, this plant can be used to make cosmetics, tea, or natural dyes and is known for its health benefits.
The history of purple gin is tied to master distiller Peter Hunt, who attempted to craft a gin to pay homage to British Columbia’s legendary Empress Hotel, using a number of botanicals, including butterfly pea blossoms. Hunt was disappointed when the spirit turned purple, but it became a hit, and today Empress 1908 is one of the leading brands of purple gin.
Butterfly pea flowers have high levels of anthocyanins, and thanks to their color-changing properties, allow mixologists to create cocktails of differing shades, from pale pink to deep red. However, since the powdered version of the flower doesn't dissolve entirely, using purple gin can be a better alternative, and makes it easier to craft a creative cocktail at home like Aviation.