Pink Pajammies is a luscious raspberry elderflower sour cocktail. The secret ingredient is raspberry jam that you shake with lemon juice, St Germain and whiskey. The Pink Pajammies is another Home Cocktail Craft original and this one is perfect as a Valentine’s Day cocktail.
Pink Pajammies is a variation of the Whiskey Sour that uses a combination of raspberry jam and elderflower liqueur instead of simple syrup. The flavor is complex and elevated thanks to the St Germain and whiskey.
I’m posting this right before Valentine’s Day, and that’s no accident. I think the Pink Pajammies is a perfect Valentine’s cocktail to kick off a romantic evening. However, don’t just enjoy it on Valentine’s – jam-based cocktails are great all winter long when fresh fruit may be hard to find.
Why did I name it Pink Pajammies? Well, it’s pink… and see how it has “jam” in the name? My clever wife thought of that!
Can you use jam in cocktails?
Jam was invented to preserve fruit so you could enjoy it out of season. Fruit and sugar make great cocktail ingredients, so why not jam?
I’m definitely not the first to use jam in a cocktail. Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s been doing it for years, and if you’ve read my blog you know I’m a huge fan of his work. In fact, I learned most of what I know from his book, The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.
The earliest reference I’ve found to a jam-based cocktail is the Marmalade Cocktail from Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930! Craddock was a famous bartender in the 1920s and 1930s, leaving the United States during Prohibition and popularizing cocktails in Europe from the Savoy Hotel in London.
Pink Pajammies Recipe
- 2 oz Whiskey (rye preferred, bourbon ok)
- 1/2 oz St. Germain
- 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp Raspberry Jam
- Dried Dragonfruit (optional)
- Add ingredients to shaker
- Shake vigorously until chilled
- Strain into the serving glass
- Add optional garnish and serve
- Strain the lemon juice before adding it to the shaker to remove any pulp or seeds.
- Shake vigorously with cubed ice to break up the jam. Shake it harder and longer than usual. Shake for a full 30 seconds. Use big ice cubes for their jam-pulverizing power.
- Do not double-strain the cocktail when pouring to preserve the thicker texture created by the jam. There will be some ice shards that escape into the cocktail. That’s ok.
Detailed instructions and notes
Pink Pajammies is an easy cocktail to make at home, but there are a few techniques and details that will yield a better result.
Straining the lemon juice
When juicing your lemons, strain out any seeds and pulp before mixing the ingredients and making the cocktail. Usually, when working with juices, we double-strain the cocktail at the end – meaning that we use the Hawthorne strainer to keep the ice from coming out of the shaker, while simultaneously pouring through a fine mesh strainer to filter out any fruit pulp and ice shards.
However, with the Pink Pajammies, we don’t want to double-strain because of the texture from the jam. So make sure you strain your lemon juice before mixing.
I have adopted this practice any time I juice citrus because I aim to be as consistent as possible. I don’t want fruit seeds or pulp that I would later strain out affecting my measurement of the citrus juice. This means that when I’m making a Daiquiri, for example, I’m using the fine mesh strainer twice. Once for the lime juice, and again for the finished cocktail.
Shaking the cocktail
Whenever you shake a cocktail, you should use cubed ice and proper shaking technique.
With the Pink Pajammies, it’s especially important to shake hard because you need to break up the jam. It’s not difficult, just keep it in mind or you can end up with chunks of jam settling to the bottom of the cocktail.
Garnishes for Pink Pajammies
The garnish in this cocktail is purely decorative. You can use anything you like, or nothing at all.
I used dried dragonfruit because I love the exotic look. Other possibilities include red raspberries on a cocktail pick or a lemon twist.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Many cocktail recipes invite wide variation in the type and brand of ingredients. For example, you can make an Old Fashioned with any whiskey you want – bourbon, rye, American, Canadian, Japanese, Scotch, Irish, etc. You can even make it with rum or tequila and still recognize it as an Old Fashioned.
The Pink Pajammies recipe doesn’t tolerate that level of modification. Through extensive experimentation with several taste-testers, I refined the ingredients and proportions to create a delicate balance between the different flavors.
There’s a lot going on in the glass, and you don’t want to lose the nuance of the elderflower or whiskey to the raspberry. If you want a raspberry elderflower sour cocktail, I recommend you try my specific ingredients.
There is some room for substitutions if you don’t have the exact same bottles – just realize that it may taste differently.
Use a rye whiskey. Recommended brands are Sazerac Rye, Rittenhouse, or the more pedestrian Bulleit. The spicy notes of the rye whiskey really compliment the raspberry and elderflower in this cocktail.
I experimented with bourbon and the sweeter bourbons got lost in a sea or raspberry. If you must use bourbon, go with a high rye content like Old Grandad Bonded, Wild Turkey 101, or Four Roses Small Batch.
If you don’t like or have whiskey, experiment with gin or vodka as the base spirit. You should end up with a drinkable cocktail, it just won’t be a Pink Pajammies.
St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
The St Germain serves two purposes in this cocktail – sweetness and complexity.
There are several generic elderflower liqueurs on the market, but I have not tried them.
If you don’t have St Germain or another elderflower liqueur, you can substitute simple sugar or another liqueur that is similarly sweet. Just know that the complex interplay between the raspberry and the elderflower will change or disappear.
To take this cocktail in completely different directions, you could substitute other liqueurs like Dry Curaçao (orange), Disaronno (amaretto), or St Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram.
Use seedless jam. I chose the Smuckers brand.
I originally tried some healthy organic raspberry jam from our fridge, but ended up with little seeds at the bottom of the cocktail. The seedless was better.
Morgenthaler would use homemade jam, because he’s awesome. He’s also a professional, and sometimes the home cocktail crafter has to make tradeoffs. Store-bought jam was my trade-off for this recipe.
Happy Valentine’s Day
Happy V-Day from Home Cocktail Craft!
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