The Easy Way To Make Dazzling, Color-changing Cocktails

Need a cool party trick? Try a cocktail made with Empress 1908 Gin.

Empress 1908 Gin Color-Changing Cocktails
Photo: Carey Jones

Your first experience with any given cocktail is visual. Whether you're at home or in a cocktail bar, there's nothing like a vivid, colorful drink to catch your eye. Over the last several years, blue drinks have been all over cocktail menus, thanks mainly to vibrant blue Curaçao.

More recently, bartenders have fallen for the butterfly pea flower. On its own, water steeped with this flower becomes a rich, dark indigo. But the second you add citrus or tonic, it shifts to a light pink, giving you not only a range of colors to work with, but the opportunity to see it transform right in the glass.

Looking to replicate these stunning cocktails at home? You can go the route many bartenders do and work with the butterfly pea flower itself. But there's no shame in taking a slightly easier route: pick up a bottle of Empress 1908 Gin, which has the butterfly pea blossom already incorporated.

Empress 1908 Gin
Empress 1908 Gin

Color-switching gin and tonics are a no-fail party trick. Pour out a measure of gin over ice in each glass, top off with tonic, and watch the color instantly morph. And once you get other ingredients involved, you'll see how varied the color can be. With green elements like muddled mint, the indigo looks almost blue; add citrus and bubbles, and it's more like a rosy pink.

Easy: Purple 75

Empress Gin Purple 75 Color-Changing Cocktail
Carey Jones

Empress 1908 Gin isn't just a gimmick; it also happens to be a tasty spirit in its own right. Like a London dry gin but with a real floral element, it shines in delicate drinks like the French 75, which doesn't contain much more than lemon and bubbles. Thanks to the citrus, this cocktail is on the pinker side of the spectrum.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine an ounce and a half of Empress 1908, half an ounce of fresh lemon juice, and half an ounce of simple syrup. Shake until well chilled, then strain into a flute. Top with two and a half ounces of sparkling wine and garnish with a small edible flower.

Intermediate: Cucumber Mint

Empress Gin Cucumber Mint Cocktail
Carey Jones

Here's a drink that can take on two colors. Refreshing and bone-dry, it's as simple as cucumber and mint muddled in a glass and topped with gin and soda. If you want to keep the drink dark purple to almost blue, serve as-is. Want something a little lighter in color and brighter in flavor? Add a lime wedge to the garnish, squeeze it in, and watch the color change before your eyes.

Instructions: In the bottom of a tall glass, muddle a quarter-inch round of cucumber, then add five mint leaves and gently muddle again. Add ice, along with an ounce and a half of Empress 1908 and two ounces of club soda. Garnish with a big sprig of mint and a thin slice of cucumber cut on the bias — and if you want to change the drink's color, a wedge of lime.

Advanced: Gin Sour

Empress Gin Sour Color-Changing Cocktail
Carey Jones

Adding egg whites to cocktails lends a silky, glossy texture and an opaque quality that really sets off certain colors. In this classic sour, the gin takes on a soft violet hue that hints at the gentle floral character of the gin. An edible flower as garnish isn't necessary, but doesn't it look lovely?

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker without ice, combine two ounces of Empress 1908, an ounce of fresh lemon juice, three-quarters of an ounce simple syrup, and one egg white. Shake very hard without ice; open shaker, add ice, and shake again until very well chilled. Double-strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with a small edible flower.

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