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What is a Pink Squirrel?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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The pink squirrel is a rich, sweet cocktail that derives its name from the use of crème de almond, also called crème de noyaux. This is a red tinged liqueur, which may be partly made not only with almonds but with the pits of apricots, that when mixed with milky ingredients, imparts a pink flavor to a drink. Many recipes for the pink squirrel do not include this liqueur and instead substitute grenadine. Lovers of this cocktail would definitely call this inauthentic, since the drink would lack the almond flavor that defines it.

The Milwaukee, Wisconsin tavern, Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, lays claim to having invented the pink squirrel. There are disputes regarding the actual invention, but it is known the drink became popular in the 1950s, especially among women. It’s now not made as often, its popularity having been eclipsed by drinks with higher alcohol content.

The Bryant’s recipe calls for something that milkshake lovers will adore; a scoop of vanilla ice cream. To this, one half an ounce (.015 liters) of crème de cacao, and one and a half ounces (.045 liters) of crème de noyaux are added. The drink may be shaken or in some cases blended.

Other recipes for the pink squirrel forgo the ice cream and stick with a basic mix of cream or half and half, crème de cacao and crème de noyaux. The base ingredients of the cocktail may actually be used to make several different drinks, which all rose to popularity at approximately the same time. For instance cream and crème de cacao may be combined with cognac or brandy to make the brandy alexander. Crème de cacao and cream are added to white crème de menthe in order to make the grasshopper. Essentially, then, if you can make a pink squirrel, you can make either of these other frothy and sweet drinks. Of them, the brandy Alexander tends to be highest in alcohol content.

A few pink squirrel recipes substitute amaretto for crème de noyaux. Which alcohol you choose to use, and how rich you wish to make the drink is merely a matter of choice. You will only get the pink color, though, if you use crème de noyaux or grenadine. Many complain the addition of grenadine makes the drink too sweet, which might suggest sticking with the classic ingredients.

Since the drink is smooth and creamy, people may forget it contains alcohol, and consume too many pink squirrels. Keep an eye on guests if you’re serving these, to make sure everyone is drinking responsibly. Be a friend to guests who love their squirrels too well but not wisely and offer them a bed for the night or a lift home from a designated driver.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By alex94 — On Sep 30, 2010

Okay, here is a little trivia. I am usually full of useless information. The Pink Squirrel that I make is 2 parts crème de noyaux, 1 part white crème de cacao and 1 part light cream.

Now, for the trivia. Noyaux if French for “cores”. That refers to the method of manufacture of this liqueur. Some people have used grenadine syrup instead of using the crème de noyaux to achieve the pink color but I wouldn’t recommend it. The almond flavor speaks for itself.

Next, Cacao is French for “chocolate”. This creates the other flavor in the Pink Squirrel. There is a white and a brown variety of this liqueur. White is the best choice. Presentation is everything in this intriguing cocktail. Red and brown just aren’t very pretty together.

Lastly, the cream is quite important but substitutions are sometimes acceptable. Light cream is the best. You can use heavy cream but it’s not as good. I also like to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

By WaterHopper — On Sep 30, 2010

@chrisinbama: The ingredients that I use are Crème De Noyaux, Crème De Cacao and Light Cream. To make one individual drink, use 1 ounce of the Crème de Noyaux, 1 Tbsp. white Crème de Cacao, and 1 Tbsp. light cream.

Shake all of the ingredients together with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.

By chrisinbama — On Sep 30, 2010

Does anyone have the exact ingredients for a Pink Squirrel?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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