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.