Empress Gin from Victoria Distillers, Illusionist Gin, and Sharish Blue Magic are just a few of the most popular brands to sell blue or purple color-changing Gin aka Butterfly pea flower infused Gin. You might think that such a color change comes from adding artificial ingredients. But that's not the case, the reason is a specific botanical that gives the Gin a deep blue tint.
The key to these purple spirits with the distinct violet hue is a tea flower called Butterfly Pea or Clitoria Ternatea. In Asia, tea from this flower is often served hot or cold with honey and fresh lemon juice on the side.
Infusing your Gin with this delicate tea flower brings only the slightest change of taste, comparable to green or black tea. Yet, it also turns your ordinary spirit into a magical cocktail ingredient. On top, the dried flowers are also an excellent garnish for cocktails made with a BPF Gin.
What is Butterfly Pea Infused Gin?
Butterfly pea flower-infused Gin, often abbreviated BPF-infused, is a purple Gin that changes color when adding acidic ingredients like tonic water, lemon juice, lime juice, and other citrus juice. Adding these ingredients changes the pH score of the liquid and color from purple to bright pink.
Butterfly pea flowers are also called Asian pigeonwings or blue pea. In Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand, dried flowers are used to make butterfly pea flower tea, served either hot or cold in combination with lemon juice and honey. When infusing a spirit with these flowers, the liquor gets a delicate floral, earthy aroma and a soft texture.
What exactly are Butterfly Pea Flowers?
Butterfly pea flowers are vibrant, blue flowers coming from the Clitoria ternatea plant. This exotic herb harmonizes the classic citrus tones of Gin with a comforting herbal earthiness, providing a distinctive natural indigo hue.
The butterfly pea flower is an Asian plant recognized for its vibrant blue flowers. These flowers are rich in anthocyanins, antioxidants responsible for their unique color. Butterfly pea flowers are part of cosmetics, natural food dyes, and textiles.
They're also commonly brewed into herbal tea with ingredients like lemongrass, honey, and lemon. The flower's color changes with acidity, making it a favorite among mixologists for creative cocktails. Beyond this, they're valued for their potential health benefits.
What you need to make DIY color-changing Gin
You only need a few ingredients and one hour to make this beautiful purple Gin:
- 250ml Gin - A classic London Dry with distinct juniper notes and traditional botanicals works best. We use Beefeater as it's an affordable quality Gin with a balanced taste. Alternatively, you could use any other classic London Dry or Dry Gins like Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Gordon's, or Seagrams.
- 5-8 Butterfly pea flowers - A bag of dried butterfly pea blossom is really economical, and you need only a few flowers to infuse a bottle of Gin. If you use more Gin than in our recipe, increase the number of flowers accordingly. If you can't get your hands on dried blossoms for your butterfly pea flower infusion, you can also use butterfly pea flower extract instead.
- Teabag or cheesecloth - Putting the dried flowers in a teabag or cheesecloth prevents straining the mixture afterward. You can remove the flowers with the cloth, and the Gin is ready.
- Sanitized bottle or jar - You need a clean bottle or jar to keep your blue-hued Gin.
How to Infuse Gin with Butterfly Pea Flower
Making a DIY version of this butterfly pea flower infused Gin is remarkably easy. You only need to follow these simple steps:
- Add Gin and flowers: Pour 250ml of Gin into a sanitized jar or bottle and add 5-8 dried butterfly pea flowers. You can either use a teabag or cheesecloth to hold the flowers.
- Infuse: Infuse the Gin with the tea flowers for 1 hour. By now, it should be of intensely indigo blue to purple color. To check the progress, stir or shake the bottle so the color mixes better.
- Remove flowers and store Gin: Remove the tea bag or cheesecloth and store the Gin in a cool, dry, and dark place. To remove any particles, you can also strain the infused Gin using cheesecloth.
As you see, making this magic ingredient is super straightforward. The Gin will also get a subtle and mildly floral taste. Don't worry, it's barely noticeable and, in most cases, only enhances the flavor profile of the spirit.
How Does Purple Gin Change Color?
Butterfly pea flower infused gin changes color due to the presence of anthocyanins in the blossoms. These pigments are sensitive to the pH levels of the liquid they're infused in. When the pH is acidic, they appear red; in neutral conditions, they turn purple; and in basic environments, they exhibit a blue hue.
For instance, adding lemon juice to purple Gin colored with butterfly pea blossoms leads to a vibrant red-pink color. Conversely, introducing something basic like simple syrup or cucumber causes the Gin to transition to a striking blue shade.
Butterfly pea flower tea or infused spirits can also change to other colors like green and even yellow. However, these are only achieved when raising the ph level. Due to its high alkalinity, saffron spices can turn butterfly pea tea to green color. For more information on the chemical background, check out this this explanation.
How long does it last?
The Gin itself won't turn bad. However, the blue color can fade over time especially when exposed to direct sunlight. To bring the color back, you can infuse it again.
Are there other ways to make color-changing cocktails?
Yes, there are. First of all, you can make this infusion with any other base spirit like Vodka, Tequila, Rum, Whiskey, or Brandy. But you can also make Butterfly pea syrup, which you can use for most cocktail recipes asking for regular simple syrup.
Alternatively, you can buy a butterfly pea flower infused Gin like Empress and make beautiful color-changing cocktails with it.
The resulting Gin is the perfect base for exquisite color-changing Gin cocktails. Use it as a base ingredient in a pink Gin and Tonic or one of the following recipes.
Color changing White Negroni
- 1.5oz Gin infused with butterfly pea tea
- 1oz Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
- 1oz Dry vermouth
- 0.25 oz Acid mix solution
- 2 drops of saline solution
- Grapefruit peel
For the acid mix solution, you'll need:
- 1g citric acid
- 1g malic acid
- 1g tartaric acid
- 50g water
Mix these ingredients until the acids dissolve. If you're missing any, just use 3 grams of citric acid. While you prepare this, pop some glasses in the freezer for chilling. Now, let's move on to making the cocktails, beginning with the Negroni!
- Add Gin, Italicus, vermouth, and saline solution to a chilled mixing glass.
- Stir for 8-12 seconds and strain into an Old Fashioned glass over a large ice cube.
- Garnish with an orange or grapefruit peel.
- For visual effects, add the acid mix solution just before drinking. That will change the color into a bright pink. To help the acid mix blend with the other ingredients, you can give it a quick stir.
Color-Changing Gin & Tonic
- 1.5 oz Butterfly pea flower Gin
- 4.5 oz Indian tonic water
- Lemon or lime peel and rosemary sprig
- Fill a chilled glass with ice and add Gin and citrus peel.
- Serve it like this to your guest or friends and serve chilled mixer, and Indian tonic water, on the side.
- When pouring in the tonic water, the color will change from dark blue to bright pink. The more tonic water, the brighter the color.
More cocktail recipes with BPF Gin
Basically, you can use Gin infused with butterfly pea flowers in any classic gin cocktail. However, when preparing one of the classics below, the color changes in your shaker. Shaking the drink blends all ingredients and allows the color to change from blue to pink inside your shaker.