Empress Gin Cocktails: Colors, Flavors, and History

Empress Gin Cocktails: Colors, Flavors, and History

Mar 30, 2022Johnna Rossbach

Do you love cocktails? Gin cocktails in particular? If so, you're not alone! Whether you're drinking them at home or your favorite bar, gin cocktails are trendy right now.

Empress Gin Cocktails: Colors, Flavors, and History

One of the most popular types of gin on the market today is Empress Gin or Empress 1908, as the brand calls it. It is a purple, color-changing gin that has taken the cocktail-making world by storm.

Not only does it impart great flavor in gin drinks, but it also provides a beautiful, show-stopping production in your glass. To put it simply, you've got to try making an Empress Gin cocktail.

Ready to learn more? Let's dive in!

The History of Empress Gin

Crafted in small batches with old-world pot stills, Empress 1908 Gin is distilled by Victoria Distillers and inspired by the landmark Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. Victoria Distillers has added to the traditional botanicals by blending black tea (served at the landmark hotel) and butterfly pea blossom.

Butterfly pea blossom is an exotic herb that complements the citrus notes in gin and imparts a spicy herbal note, providing a natural color of indigo. Combining exquisite taste, soft texture, and presentation, Empress 1908 provides the perfect base for the finest cocktails and drinks.

Since 1908, travelers from across the globe have grown enamored by the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Its majestic grandeur, picturesque vistas, and unparalleled afternoon tea service overlook the Inner Harbor in Victoria, British Columbia. In 1908, people worldwide became loyal customers and continue to enjoy this destination today. As the Empress transitions into a new era, it retains a traditional elegance and modern sophistication.

The hotel's traditional afternoon tea served as inspiration for creating the Empress 1908 gin. The perfect cup of tea is brewed thanks to the selective blending of an exclusive assortment of handpicked tea leaves. By pairing a classic Empress tea with carefully sourced botanicals, the Empress brand created a unique gin that is both traditional and modern all in one; it is delicate and opulent all at the same time.

All this history, combined with the unique array of botanicals and vibrant hue, is what makes Empress 1908 special. You can make your drink-making shine by crafting Empress gin cocktails.

What Ingredients & Botanicals Are In Empress Gin?

Empress gin contains eight natural ingredients to impart flavor (and color) throughout the distillation process. The key botanicals or ingredients are butterfly pea blossom, juniper, Fairmont Empress tea, ginger root, grapefruit peel, coriander seed, rose petal, and cinnamon bark. Each of the eight ingredients brings something unique to the gin.

Butterfly Pea Blossom

Empress chose this flower for its warm, herbal qualities and softness to the flavor. It serves a flavor role comparable to angelica found in other, more traditional gins. The mesmerizing color also comes from this botanical.


Juniper is the classic foundational flavor found in most gins, which provides notes of pine and citrus. Therefore, a London Dry Gin has a more intense juniper flavor than Empress Gin's Pacific Northwest style. Empress utilizes juniper in a more subdued way.

Fairmont Empress Tea

Fairmont's signature tea is an exclusive seasonal blend from Assam, Kenya, South India, Ceylon, and China, created by The Metropolitan Tea Company. The combination is both floral and fruity, with a hint of oakiness, and is one of the finest in the world.

Ginger Root

The spicy fragrance of ginger is incredibly appealing and offers a hint of citrusy lemon flavor. Ginger is another component in the balancing act of botanicals that gives Empress its unique flavor profile.

Grapefruit Peel

Rather than the commonly used lemon and orange, Empress employs grapefruit in its blend. Grapefruit peel imparts a unique citrus flavor that is slightly bitter and sweet. It provides an aromatic, bright note that pairs well with tonic.

Coriander Seed

The traditional gin botanical coriander has hints of nut and spice that bring some warmth to the palate. Empress gin sources its coriander from India. This variation is a bit more citrusy than what is typically used in gin and plays off of other citrus elements to create a well-rounded balance.

Rose Petal

As it does with our gin, the sweetness of the rose contributes to its softness and warmth, creating an elegant floral note that balances out the spices. Empress gin uses the entire rosebud throughout the distillation process.

Cinnamon Bark

Cinnamon bark adds a warm, spicy note that complements the citrus and floral elements and works with the ginger to provide rich spice to the palate.

Empress Gin Cocktails

Now that you understand the magical capabilities of Empress, you can start to make show-stopping Empress gin cocktails! Some of our ideas listed below may seem simple, but once you give them a try, you'll see that it doesn't take much to make Empress shine. Try these out with your friends while at home or during your next party or event. We guarantee they'll be a crowd favorite.

Let's check out a few!

French 75

This cocktail is a classic, combining gin, lemon, sugar, and sparkling wine. It may sound simple, but magic occurs when making it as an Empress gin cocktail. The lemon transitions the deep indigo, purple-like hue to a lighter pink. It's bubbly and beautiful, and you're sure to love it. See how it's made below!


  • 1oz Empress 1908 Gin
  • 0.5oz Lemon Juice
  • 0.5oz Simple Syrup
  • Champagne


Add the lemon juice, simple syrup, and Empress gin into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake. Strain into a chilled glass and top off with champagne. Garnish with a twist of lemon. If you want to bring out some of the spicier, herbaceous notes of Empress, add a dash of cocktail bitters in for a different kind of tasting experience.

Salty Dog

This Empress gin cocktail is bright and refreshing, bringing out the grapefruit peel in the gin's flavor profile. The best part? It's also super easy to make, with only three ingredients! Additionally, you can build this drink in front of your guest and wow them as the colors shift in front of their eyes. It may be simple to make, but it is easily a top favorite. Here's how to make it:


  • 2oz Empress 1908 Gin
  • 4oz Grapefruit Juice
  • Salt


Fill a salt-rimmed glass with ice and pour in the Empress gin to start your cocktail. Next, pour in the grapefruit juice. Stir for a few seconds to combine. Garnish with a wedge of grapefruit and enjoy!

You can also add a splash of club soda or grapefruit soda to boost flavor and fizz.

(recipe source)

The Empress Martini

Alright, this cocktail comes straight from the Empress herself, so we know it's a winner. This Empress gin cocktail is a take on a classic drink that many gin drinkers love: the martini! See below for the brand's unique interpretation.


  • 2oz Empress 1908 Gin
  • 1/2oz Lillet Blanc
  • Grapefruit Twist


Add the Lillet Blanc and Empress gin into a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 20-30 seconds—strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a twist of grapefruit. Cheers!

The Joy of Making Empress Gin Cocktails

At Mixly, we're fans of Empress 1908 Gin for many reasons. It's flavorful, beautiful, and the perfect ingredient for creating beautiful yet easy-to-make drinks. Playing around with its color-changing capabilities is so much fun, and we hope you pick up your favorite Mixly Mixer to see what reactions you can create!


mixly cocktail mixer


If you still have a few burning questions about making Empress gin cocktails, check out the frequently asked questions below. Or if you want to explore more gin cocktails to mix up with Empress, check out our other posts.

Otherwise, happy mixing!

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Makes Empress Gin Purple?

Empress gin has a dark blueish-purple hue that comes from a unique source: the butterfly pea blossom. Butterfly pea flower infusion changes the Empress 1908 gin to purple and will also change to various shades of pink and light lavender depending on the mixer. Artificial flavors or preservatives are not used, so the color will not last forever; the infused hue will fade over time.

What Does Empress Gin Taste Like?

Many people think Empress gin will impart a violet or floral flavor to their cocktails, but that is not the case.

This gin has a touch of rose flavor early on. If you're looking for many flowers in your gin, then this isn't the one for you. Sweet, boiled grapefruit flavor mixes with juniper in the middle of the tasting experience.

What Does Empress Gin Taste Like?

As it progresses, earthy coriander, green tea, and subtle hints of cinnamon linger on the edges of the palate, fueled by the base spirit's radiant heat. Eventually, these notes fade away, leaving a sensation of warmth.

How Does Empress Gin Change Color?

As the Empress brand so famously showcases, Butterfly pea blossoms contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are pigments that change colors depending on their PH levels. When they're acidic, they're red; when they're neutral, they're purple; and when they're basic, they're blue. Therefore, adding acid to Empress Gin, such as lemon juice, will become a beautiful red-pink color. Similarly, adding something basic to it, like simple syrup or cucumber, will turn it blue.

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