The Pink Squirrel cocktail was supposedly invented in the 1940s at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge in Milwaukee. Since then, it has lived on the fringes, enjoyed by those who know it and regularly ignored by the many more who don’t.
The drink has a lot in common with the Brandy Alexander and the Grasshopper, each containing crème de cacao and cream. But this cocktail differs in its inclusion of crème de noyaux, a once popular but relatively forgotten liqueur from the 19th century. It’s similar to amaretto but sports a singular herbal-meets-bitter almond flavor, and the liqueur’s red color traditionally comes from cochineal, an insect used for dye.
Considering that crème de noyaux was never a common sight on back bars, it’s not surprising that the Pink Squirrel hasn’t topped any top-10 lists over the years. And modern cocktails have gotten away from the sweet and creamy drinks that dominated the 1970s and ’80s. But this interesting cocktail is worth a sip.
Sourcing crème de noyaux can be problematic, assuming you don’t have a crème de noyaux guy on speed dial. However, that feat has become easier in recent years, with bottles available from Bols, Hiram Walker and Tempus Fugit. The latter released their version in 2013, hewing closest to the 19th-century examples. It’s made with apricot and cherry pits, bitter almonds and botanicals, and the liqueur’s color is achieved the old fashioned way, with cochineal.
Combining only three ingredients, the Pink Squirrel is easy to make; it’s also very easy to drink. The crème de noyaux joins white crème de cacao and heavy cream to create a rich, sweet cocktail that tastes of almonds and chocolate. Make a few glasses the next time you want to dive into the past or whenever you want to drink a cocktail that tastes similar to an adult milkshake.
- 3/4 ounce crème de noyaux
- 3/4 ounce white crème de cacao
- 1 1/2 ounces heavy cream
- Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
Add the crème de noyaux, white crème de cacao and heavy cream into a shaker filled with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.